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Full text of "Heresies Magazine Issue #6: On Women and Violence (Volume 2, Number 2)"

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We came together almost a year ago to examine violence. We operated as a 
study group, a work group and a support group. Our individual reasons for 
joining together to work on this issue included years of involvement in work- 
place organizing, work with tortured political prisoners in Chile, work with 
battered women in New York City, three years' work as a whore; to substanti- 
ate a psycho-sexual curiosity in violence; being molested and beaten by a 
father, being raised by working-class communist parents, being lesbian, being 
Indian in a White supremacist society. And all of us shared a commitment, as 
women, to the radical restructuring of this society. 

Readings and discussions about our individual experiences have helped us 
clarify the inextricable connection between power, control and privilege: that 
violence, in its broadest sense, is essential in maintaining any unequal relation- 
ship. We were forced to abandon linear notions about the causes, functions and 
manifestations of violence and to replace them with an understanding that was 
both multidimensional and itself a process. 

In one-to-one relations, most of us at times have felt in control, powerful: 
mothers over children, whores over tricks, females withholding something a 
male wants. In a larger sense, however, this power is relative. If the laws, jobs, 
money, and values that affect our lives are determined by men with power, then 
the personal power we experience as mother, whore or girlfriend is never out- 
side of this context. 

Actual power can be elusive, not something you can hold in your hand. Pow- 
er does not have a life of its own, but is established over and over again through 
interaction. The power of some individuals, whether a caseworker, a husband 
or a boss, and some institutions over others is culturally sanctioned and 

We recognize that violence is woven throughout the fabric of all social struc- 
tures and that this violence is experienced differently according to cultural, 
racial, sexual, class, ethnic, age and national identity. Those of us who are poor 
in a classist society, Third World in a racist society, female in a sexist society, 
homosexual in a heterosexist society know daily the violence directed at us be- 
cause of who we are and the importance of uniting along these lines. But to 
examine class and not race, class and race but not sex, or sex and nothing else, 
perpetuates our isolation and undercuts the clarity of our analysis and the 
strength of our united action. 

Women have always fought back. We have fought for survival, for change 
and for revolution. Recognizing and examining our identity as a gender class 
enables us to challenge one of the most deep-rooted and long-lasting instances 
of domination: that of men over women. 

Feminism takes as a central assumption that women as women are every- 
where oppressed. The nature of this oppression may be modified by the partic- 
ular male-dominated social system that a woman is part of, but as variable as 
male domination may be, the central feature of the relations between the sexes 
is differential access to societal resources and expropriation of one group's 
labor power by another group. So not only are women oppressed by social 
custom and laws that deny them economic self-sufficiency, political visibility 
and social status vis-a-vis men, but the labor power of all women (including 
productive and reproductive) is ultimately under the control of men. 

We have been working toward an issue that is more than a documentation of 
the violence endured by women throughout herstory or a simple collection of 
individual solutions. We have been working toward an issue that will stimulate 
debate and contribute to the momentum of women effecting radical change. 
Within the intersection of gender, violence and power exists one of the keys to 
understanding oppression and resistance. 

— The 6th Issue Collective 

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Washing machine went downhill slow, 
like my marriage. Each time it got worse, I 
wasn't sure: Hadn't it worked like that be- 
fore? After all, like me, it was a small ma- 
chine had to do a big job. No wonder it 
clanked. No wonder it shook, rattled, and 
rolled on dry spin, shaking the dishes in 
my kitchen cupboard like it was ready to 
send them and me heavenward. Baby 
Jesus, I'm ready, listen, I'm ready. 

The way that machine made a racket, 
I'm telling you, it scared me sometimes 
like I scare my kid. Maybe that's why I 
didn't call the repair company for so long. 
Knew I wouldn't hurt my kid — that I'd 
keep feeding and rocking him no matter 
how mad he made me. Guess I thought 
the machine had my same mentality: 
What I mean is, in my idea, it would 
grumble and holler but it would keep on 
washing. Or maybe since I knew there was 
no repairman coming around for me, I 
felt hopeless in the same way about the 
machine. Yesterday, though, sun broke 
out and I called the company. 

Now another reason I couldn't believe 
my machine was breaking so bad: It was 
practically new. Bought it three months 
short of two years ago. I was still working 
but I was pregnant. Bought it on time. 
Knew I'd need it, what with the kid. And I 
have given it a working out, I'll tell you, 
not enough to account for it breaking 
down so soon, though, don't try that line 
on me, I don't want to hear it. One thing I 

made sure of: I got a guarantee. It was for 
one year, renewable for one more year, 
with nothing said about how many 

I had a sinking feeling trouble was com- 
ing when I called that repair company. 
First thing, they interrupted my story 
with, Did I have a contract. I went, You 
kidding? Of course I have a contract. You 
think they even bothered to pretend to 
look for it? Not on your. Right away they 
went, Sorry, we don't have a guarantee 
for you on file. I knew there was a reason 
I hadn't called. They always try that num- 
ber. I said, Well, I have a contract. They 
said, You got a copy? I said, I'll check my 
records and hung up fast to keep from 
saying something nasty. You get mean 
with the guys on the phone, you're fin- 
ished, no matter if you got a contract 
signed in blood. 

Thank God for my mother. I'm going 
to say three extra Hail Mary's for her to- 
night before I got to bed. See, it's because 
of my mother that I have records. She was 
really a case about records. Records and 
washing machines. Those were her two 
numbers. I remember one Christmas dad 
gave her a washing machine. Mom was 
kid-pleased up until she looked inside and 
didn't find any guarantee. Her face fell. 
Old dad, he got mad. He didn't like how 
she went straight for the evidence. I don't 
know what he expected. Something ri- 
dick. He was always wanting her to put on 

a happy-happy act. Never did understand 
how she wasn't phony, how she never put 
on an act unless she had the goods to back 
it up, that was one of the best things about 
mom, but old dad couldn't understand 
what was good about that. Women were 
supposed to be phony, how he saw it. 
That was what they were for. To put a 
goddamn gloss on life. Which was exactly 
what she wouldn't do, not anymore than 
she would shut up about the guarantee, 
which she needed for her "records." 

When old dad didn't come up with it 
immediately, she started in saying about 
how he must have lost it, or maybe he 
bought the machine hot on the street, 
didn't he know it wasn't worth the money 
you saved if you didn't get a guarantee, 
plus having to worry about cops coming 
to check the registration. Old dad almost 
slammed her into the washing machine 
but then he must've remembered how if 
was Christmas or else he couldn't resist 
proving her wrong for once. Anyway he 
pulled the guarantee out of his pocket and 
waved it in front of her face. Soon as she 
saw it, she quieted down like a hungry 
kid's just got a bottle. Thank you, she 
said, saint sweet. Then she showed me 
how to file the guarantee in her records. 
"This guarantee is for five years, honey," 
she said. "If I should die before five years 
and the washing machine breaks, you 
look right in here and get out the guaran- 

(continued on page 4) 

Martine: Do you find it difficult to use 
guns? Because you're a girl? Do you feel 
you need a lot of strength to use them? 

Vicki: Not really, because since my 
brothers were Nomads, which was before 
they were Roman Kings, they had guns. 
So the first gun that they had lent to me 
was a .22. It was small, and my brother, I 
think it was Ace, told me, "You never 
shot a gun, right?" and I told him, "No." 
So he told me, "Come with me up to the 
roof." He shot and says, "Now is your 
turn." I didn't know what the hell to do, 
so I said, "What do I do with this?" 
"Just do straight," he says, and I shot it. 
The first time you feel kind of nervous 
after you shoot a gun because it kicks a 
lot. From that day on, every time I'd get a 
gun I'd start shooting on the roof. And 
that's how I learned. But a big gun isn't 
easy for me to handle. 

Martine: Like a .45? 

Vicki: A .45 gives you a lot of kick. Like 
a rifle. I couldn't handle that. 

Martine: How old were you then? When 
you learned? 

Vicki: I was small. I was about eleven. 
But from that day on I have a .32 auto- 
matic on me. They're getting it fixed for 
me now. I always carry it around, especi- 
ally when I get my check ... or when I'm 
coming home alone at night. You know, 

somebody is going to jump me and stuff, 
so I just pull it out. I won't shoot to kill, 
but I'll shoot them so they know not to 
fuck around with me no more. That's how 
I am. But that time, with that girl, I didn't 
want to take up the gun because I feel, 
boy, I'll just slap her around a few times 
and the girl will shut her damned mouth. I 
don't like to talk when I argue with some- 
body. I'll swing first. I lost my temper fast 
. . . even with a guy [laughs]. That's why 
most of my boyfriends, they left me. I'm 
serious. It's not that I'm a manhandler 
but it's the type of thing where I don't like 
nobody to slap me around. My mother 
don't hit me. My own mother, she hit me 
only twice and that was when I was small. 

Martine: You think guys leave you for 
that. They can't take it? 

Vicki: They can't take it because they ar- 
gued with me— I get mad fast. Especially 
when they cuss at you, say, "Ah, fuck 
you" or something like that. And I say, 
"What?" They don't have to swing at me 
first because I'll turn around and I'll 
swing at them and we just fight right 
there. I know you know I'm not as strong 
as a man and really they kick my ass, you 
might as well say. But I've proved to them 
that when you raise a hand on me, I'm 
going to raise one back. Because he would 
lose respect for me just as much as I am 
losing respect for him. We just fall sliding 
all over the place until one of us gives up 

. . . and most likely he's going to give up 
because I lost my temper and if I grab 
their hair, whatever I got, I won't let go. 

Martine: You are lucky to have brothers 
teaching you how to fight. 

Vicki: Yeah. Like when we was the 
Young Nomads they used to put me up to 
fight with the girls. 

Martine: For initiation? 

Vicki: Yeah. If I would lose a fight, 
they'll make me fight her and fight her 
until I win. I could be dead on my feet 
and, boy, they tell me to go ahead and 
fight, fight until I'm going to get real mad 
and I'm going to whip her ass. That's how 
they taught me. Don't be scared of no- 
body. Especially if they raise their hand to 
you. So, that's what happened. 

Martine: And that's why you want to 
teach your little girl to fight? 

Vicki: Right. Now she gets real mad. She 
starts swinging at anybody that's there, 
whoever bothers her. I teach her. I tell 
her, "You hit back because they only 
going to fuck over you if you don't hit 
back." She's like that [laughs]. She's like 
that and I'm like that. But I don't tell her 
go, go around hitting everybody in the 
'head ... I just tell her, "When 
somebody hits you, you hit back. And if 
they argue with you, you argue with them. 
(continued on page 5) 

tee." Nowadays guarantees are only for 
one year, with one renewable. Not much 
chance I'll die before then unless my ex 
comes back to finish what he started so I 
haven't shown my son where I keep my 
records. Besides, he can't read yet. And 
what do men need to know about washing 
machines. They've got women to keep 
them clean. 

Looking for the guarantee, I remem- 
bered: They didn't send me the contract 
back when I sent it in. Did I hold my 
breath until I found my cancelled check! 
You better believe. When I found it, I 
held on tight and called them back. Lis- 
ten, I said, you guys didn't send me the 
contract back in the mail. He said, If you 
don't have a contract, what can I do. I 
said, Forget that line, I've got my can- 
celled check. Do you know what he had 
the nerve to try to get away with? He said, 
If you cancelled the check, it don't prove 
anything. I said, You cancelled it, smart 
guy, what are you trying to pull. How 
much is it for? he said. I told him thirty- 
seven dollars. He said, Who is it made out 
to. I read him the name of his own com- 
pany and his bank too, just for good 
housekeeping. Sorry lady, he said. Book- 
keeper must have slipped up. I'll send a 
man out tomorrow. Like hell she did, I 
thought, but I didn't say it. Enough was 
said already, the way I saw it. 

All the same, I was furious. Doing me 
that way was bad enough, those blow 
joes, but at least I had records. Listen: 
Other women in this town didn't have my 
mother. I bet they even pull that number 
on the doctor's wife. Only difference is, 
She's got money so she pays the extra fee, 
while the women around here they just 
end up with a broke machine in their kit- 
chens. Then they start decorating it up 
because what else is it good for and the 
social workers come and make fun, those 
player pianos, they've only got about two 
tunes inside them, and you can't dance to 
either one. 

Well, wouldn't you know it, sun was 
still out today and the snow was all melt- 
ed. For the first day in months, I could 
take my kid out in his stroller, and I had 
to wait inside for the washing machine re- 
pairman. Then I remembered, some of 
those wishywashies made a law that says 
the repair places have to tell you if they're 
coming morning or afternoon and stick to 
what they tell you or else. So I called the 
place to find out when the man was com- 

ing. You called the wrong number, he 
grumped the way my husband used to 
when he had to work Saturdays. My bad 
moods come on later, when the day starts 
getting to me, so I apologized and asked 
for the right number. The guy got all of a 
sudden kind and said he'd go over and 
find out what time the man was coming. 
When he came back, he said, The repair- 
man has five calls before you so it'll be 
afternoon. So I can stroll my kid this 
morning? I said to make sure. You heard 
me, he said. Glad I'm not married to you, 
I said, and he laughed, gruffy soft, the 
way that kind of bear-man can be 

Well, I wished that hadn't happened be- 
cause all the while I was stuffing my kid 
into his bunny snowsuit with the white 
tuftballs on the front and behind, I was 
feeling that love longing. It's just spring, I 
told myself, but it kept on. Listen: I don't 
like that feeling. It's landed me in trouble 
one time too many. So when the sun had 
gone under a gray rippled cloud by the 
time I got my kid downstairs and stuck the 
bottle in his mouth and the grahamcrackers 
in his list and rolled on outside, I was 
glad. It's a lot easier to stomp out longing 
when it's gray out. Hey, I said to my kid, 
sky looks like your diapers the way they 
come out of the machine nowadays. He 
spit some milk my way and we set off. 

Hardly any good things about the wop 
slum I live in but one of them is: Wops 
like good food. For instance, there's a 
homebake place where they got a long 
bread with a crunchy top. I got some of 
that and then I stopped at the butcher too 
and he'd just finished making that sau- 
sage you can only get at Eastertime, the 
kind that tastes like black jelly beans. 
Well, I packed my groceries alongside my 
kid in the stroller and headed back home. 
About halfway, the sun came out again 
(inagainoutagainfinnegan, my mom used 

(continued on page 6) 

"This is Black Gold. She's 97. She was the 
first Black woman wrestler in the U.S.A. 
They pulled her teeth and made false ones 
from gold which she wore each time she 
went in the ring." 

If they talk back to you, you talk back to 
them. Just don't let nobody talk about 
your mother or your father or your 
family." One thing I don't want anybody 
calling me is a mother-fucker . . . 

Martine: -When there are rumbles 
between cliques, are they between cliques 
of girls or do they involve the guys? 

Vicki: It was mostly with guys because 
there wasn't a lot of trouble with girls. 
Really and truly. 

Martine: You think girls fight as much as 

Vicki: Well, guys fight a lot. Girls don't 
fight as much. Like if it was all up to them 
we'll fight. The guys, they got to fight be- 
cause their prez tells them to fight. But if 
it was up to us girls, we'd hang-out to- 
gether. We would like to have a brother- 
hood. But sometimes it's the girls. I'm the 
one who started rumbling with the Im- 
mortals because I have something against 
that girl from school, Nancy. We fought 
and then she told the school I pulled out a 

"Roman Kings— Pearl, Bernard, and Billy— on their first day out of jaii. 


I fed 

is nil 


"They wanted me to take pictures of Vickie and the new baby after her Caesarean. 
Instead when we got to the house they took out their guns and set up pictures they 
wanted me to take. Baba (the father) was in jail then." 

knife on her and they threw me out. I 
couldn't go to school no more so I had 
something against the Immortals because 
of her. 

Marline: Um-hum. 

Vicki: I start messing with her and mess- 
ing with her until, you know, we rumbled. 
When I have something against somebody 
I take it out in one fight. One fight. As 
long as I get my shit off. After that if she 
want to talk to me, she talk to me but she 
could go to hell, too. I tell her, "I was 
born in this world by myself ..." 

Vicki: Yeah, like that girl. I grab her 
alone and we straightened it out and now 
me an' her don't have no trouble. I see 
her. She's in jail right now when I go to 
see her. 

Martine: Why is she in jail? 

Vicki: She was selling drugs. She sold 
drugs to a cop and now she's facing ten to 
twenty- five. 

Martine: Were there many fights with 
knives and guns at the time you were in 

Vicki: No, just with the hands. No guns 
or knives, we just fight with the hands. 
Most of the time that there's fights is be- 
cause someone don't like you or someone 
try to take my boyfriend away. So, they 
fight and scratch each other up. 

Martine: But you've fought with knives 
and stuff. Was that outside of school? 

Vicki: Yeah, outside. That's right. Put it 
this way, if I was to rumble with some- 
body, right? Say I wanted to use my hands 
but before we fight we don't search each 
other. So, let's say I fight somebody and I 
beat her up. She ain't going to like that. 
So she know if she fights with me again, 
I'm going to beat her up again. So she'll 
bring something to stab me with or she'll 
bring a gun and shoot me with it. We 
don't trust them just like they don't trust 

Martine: So you think that's one of the 
reasons why kids in the clique carry guns? 

Vicki: Yeah. That's why. Because we 
don't trust them. God knows what they 
going to do when we turn our backs, just 
like God knows what we going to do when 
they turn their backs. That's all. 

Martine: Do you remember when Charlie 
organized that big meeting with all the 

(continued on page 7) 

Black and white reproductions from a series of 
colored posters by Toni Robertson 

to say) so I stopped by a bus waiting place 
where there was a patch of light just big 
enough to warm me and my kid and I sat 
down on the peeling green bench, tore off 
a big hunk of bread for myself and a little 
one for the kid, and we sat there in the sun 
chewing. These little breezes got to me be- 
tween the bench slats, you know, and I 
felt these small human chills. If God ever 
asked me what I wanted out of life, I'd tell 
him to feel like a human being all the 
time. He probably wouldn't like that. 
Doesn't seem like a whole lot to ask, 
though, does it? I mean when you think 
of all the things I could ask for. Doesn't 
seem like the kind of wish you get turned 
into a fish for. 

Well, it was getting late, so I started 
back. Noticed my kid was looking behind 
us, so I looked too: The sidewalks were all 
dry, you know, pale dry, and hardly any 
people had walked yet, so you could see 
these clear dark footprints caused by me 
walking in a puddle and then stepping on 
the dry walk and there were stroller tracks 
too and it was like we had had an effect, 
my kid and me, and it was like our path 
behind us and my kid was smiling and so 
was I. We went most of the way home like 
that, going forward but looking back. I 
felt like a kid in the back seat watching the 
road, you know. I wanted to drive then so 
bad. I never did know when I had it good, 
still don't, and I felt that longing again, 
and I wished my husband back so bad, 
lying on top of the white chenille spread, 
in the sunlight, that time of spring when 
the light goes from white to yellow, the 
whole room smelling of thesex that was all 
wedid in those days. We never fought. All 
the time we were going out we never 
fought. The slapping didn't start until we 
got married, and then when I got pregnant 
it was all over. He acted like I was a 
punching bag and I told him, Cut it out or 
get out. It was his fault anyway I got preg- 
nant. He wouldn't let me use anything. 
Well, it wasn't his fault entirely. I let him 
be that way. Listen: I loved him better 
than myself. But not better than my kid. 
It was for my kid I told him, Cut it out or 
get out. Listen: You probably think I 
asked for it, the way I've been shooting 
off at the mouth but I didn't. I was too 
scared to talk out in those days. It's only 
since I've been on my own with my kid to 
fend for I've gotten so tough talking. I 
figure, Things can't get any worse. I might 
as well speak my mind. 

Time we got home, my kid was crabby. 

At the door, this repairman was punching 
the doorbell like he thought it would let 
him in if he hit it hard enough, an attitude 
I am all too familiar with. All too. The 
name of the washing machine repair com- 
pany was embroidered in shiny red thread 
on his blue hat and shirt so I knew it was 
him. I greeted him real friendly even 
though he was early. He didn't return the 
courtesy. He says, Where the hell have 
you been? I'm going to have to charge you 
extra for waiting. Well, I remembered 
how they acted about my contract on the 
phone and what that meant for all the 
women who didn't have my mother and I 
tell you my Irish started going up. I said, 
Listen, there's a law that says you people 
have to say whether you're coming morn- 
ing or afternoon and I called and they said 
afternoon so you better shut up about 
charging extra or I'm reporting you to the 
Better Business. Now, I know the Better 
Business isn't worth shit, but I wanted to 
give him the idea to be scared of me. 
Sometimes they quiet right down when 
you go at them like that, but not this one. 
He was so perumpety you'd think he was 
trained by the power company. Only thing 
shuts him up is my kid starts in howling. 
My kid is like a dog almost, the way he 
picks out meanness. I say, You stay out- 
side while I put my kid in for a nap, okay? 
He says, If you don't let me in now, I'm 
not fixing your machine. I said, Listen, I 
can't watch you while I'm putting my kid 
in. I'm not going to steal nothing, he said. 
I said, I know, but if I let you stand 
around and anything goes wrong, my hus- 
band will kill me, you know what I mean? 

What can you do? With men, lies work 
a lot better than the truth. He tamped 
himself down and hung around the door- 
way while I stuck my kid in bed and gave 
him a bottle. Then I went out and let the 
washing machine man in, thinking: You 
know, this isn't so great. I protected my 
belongings but who's going to protect me. 
He was a short, stumpy man, kind that 
keeps hair growing stubby on his face to 
remind you he's a man because he's so 
small otherwise you might not treat him 
with proper respect. Course, when you 
treat them with proper respect, you don't 
get any bonus back except maybe they 
aren't quite as lousy as they would be 
otherwise, but you don't know that be- 
cause they're so lousy already it's hard to 
imagine them worse. One thing for sure: 
You don't keep them around long enough 
for a comparison, not unless you're mar- 
ried to them. 

Think he asked me any questions about 

(continued on page 8) 


cliques after Benji got killed? To try to get 
them together so they wouldn't fight 

Vicki: I was upstate at the time. I heard 
about it. By the time I got back everything 
passed and everybody was walking the 
streets again. All the cliques. 

Marline: You're a leader of a clique, too. 
Did you ever think about getting all the 
cliques together? 

Vicki: Yeah. I tried to do that a lot. I 
would talk to my girls and tell them we 
should get all the cliques and the girls 
together. You know, make truce and then 
throw parties. It would be nice having all 

the girls coming down to a party and shit. 
But it could never happen that way. Be- 
cause of the guys . . . 

Marline: You know, Vicki, you were tell- 
ing me about the Outlaw Marriages in the 
cliques. You told me that the girl who gets 
married in certain cliques has to get down 
with all the guys in the clique. Do you feel 
that the girls feel like that is like being 

Vicki: I feel that they do, yeah. It's just 
like rape. When a girl has to get down 
with all of them. I wouldn't do that. I 
couldn't walk in the street proud. They 

(continued on page 8) 

what was wrong with that machine? Fat 
chance. He was the kind of a man doesn't 
think women know anything. He started 
right in fiddling with it, ignoring me com- 
pletely. Well, that got my goat. I am a 
specialist in what's wrong with that ma- 
chine. I've got two years' experience. I 
said, Don't you want to know what's 
wrong with it? (You big lunk, I almost 
added; tell the truth, he reminded me so 
much of my ex, it was all I could do to 
keep myself from talking to him that same 
old way; might've in fact, except I didn't 
want him slapping me across the room, 
bad enough when your own husband does 
it, let alone a stranger.) What's wrong 
with it? he said, real sarcastic. 1 told him 
best I could about how it goes on different 
cycles than the dial says and it jerks 
around the wash so much acts like it wants 
to kill it instead of just clean it and when it 
goes on dry spin it bangs around some- 
thing awful. Unplugged itself last week. 
(A lot like my marriage, that machine. A 
lot like everything in my life, that ma- 
chine. Good thing I'm not superstitious.) 
You finished? he said. I nodded. He op- 
ened the machine. Half my last week's 
wash was still in there stinking. I didn't 
know what else to do with it. You got this 
wash in wrong, he said. It wasn't like that 
before, I said. I wanted to leave the scene 
of the crime exactly as it was, but my kid 
had to have some clean clothes so I've 
been taking stuff out piece by piece, rins- 
ing them myself and drying them on the 
radiators. The clothes were even before. 
Honest. You got this wash in wrong, he 
said again in exactly the same tone. I got 
it, I thought. You're that kind of man 
can't even hear a woman talking. So I 
shut my mouth and backed up. 

Next thing I know he's throwing wet 
stinking clothes at my belly. Thanks a lot, 
I say, catching some socks and gray dia- 
pers. He doesn't do all the clothes like 
that, just enough to get me wet, then he 
hooks the washer to the sink and starts 
turning it off and on. Next he whips a 
kitchen knife out of his tool belt and uses 
it to press some button that isn't in the in- 
structions and it lets water out. Then he 
takes the dial off, then he lets some more 
water out with the kitchen knife, then he 
puts the dial back on and says it's all right. 
Yeah? I said. Show me. He puts it on spin 
and water starts going in. It's not all right, 
I say. Water's supposed to be going out 
not in. This machine's mixed up. So he 

opens the top of the washer, not the top 
that usually opens but the whole top, and 
he fiddles with something, I don't know 
what, I'm too horrified by how dirty the 
machine is outside and I'm grabbing for 
my sponge and starting to clean. That's 
the only time he looks nice at me the 
whole visit. Then he spins the dial again 
and takes it off and puts it on again and 
sets it on rinse and pushes with his knife 
and lets out the water and then he says it 
again: It's all right. You're going to have 
to show me, I said. He's not happy but he 
puts it on spin and it makes a peculiar 
noise but it spins all right and hardly any 
new water goes in but some does and I 
say, More water is going in and he makes 
up some cock and bull story about how 
that always happens and I make him run it 
all the way through spin and it gets to the 
end and in this real ass-in-your-nose fash- 
ion, he says, Satisfied? Well, I'm not and 
I say, We'll see how it works in real life. 
He says, Yeah? It doesn't work in real 
life, you're in real trouble. I say, What're 
you talking about? He says, I'll tell you 
what went wrong here. I say, So tell me. 
He says, You took this dial off and put it 
back on wrong. I said, I didn't take no 
dial off. He said, He took this dial off and 
when he put it back on wrong that was the 
problem. I said, He? Who's . . . and then 
I remembered I couldn't say I didn't have 
a husband because I already said I did 
have one so I changed it to, My husband's 
always out with his shit girlfriends, fat 
chance he'd lay a hand on my washing 

(continued on page 10) 

guys will be saying, "Oh, I got to her. She 
was a good piece." I can't stand that. I 
think a good man is the type that will 
make love to a woman and won't talk 
about it to nobody. It's his personal thing. 
The thing he should keep inside. A man 
that lays with a woman and then tells 
every guy, "Oh, I lay with that girl, she's 
a good fuck," he's bad. That make you 
feel like a piece of shit on the floor. 

Martine: You think that will change one 

Vicki: Yeah. It will change. Like now. 
Most of the cliques ain't that way. I got 
married Outlaw. We don't do that in the 
Roman Kings. We get married and say the 
things that they say in church. 

Martine: Can you describe the marriage 
to me because I've never been to one? 

Vicki: Well, the Roman Queens are on 
one side and the Kings on their side and 
everybody flies their colors. We're clean. 
We're never dirty. You know, we have 
our dungarees, our tee shirt, our jackets 
with the colors on it and our boots. The 
guys have on their Outlaw pants, a tee 
shirt, all their colors. Their hats, what- 
ever. And their M.C.'s. And the girls are 
on one side and all the guys on the other 
side and we get in the middle. Me and 
him. Well, when I got married to Baba, 
his twin brother got married too. So it was 
me and Baba and in the back of us was 

"Uncle of Jennifer on the street. 


"This Maria and Blood. She is so beautiful. Blood is a King. His brother was shot by the police." 

Batusi and Marlene. Behind them was the 
bridesmaid and the . . . what you call . . . 
best man. They was in back of us and then 
we walked down the aisle. You might as 
well say the aisle. We walked down there. 
Like in a church. The guy that married us 
was Husky Pekiching. So we walked up to 
him. We stand there because it was like a 
double wedding. And Husky was there 
telling us, "I now pronounce you man 
and wife," like all the things that they say 
in church. 

Martine: Because you were a bride did 
you wear something different? 

Vicki: No, we all had colors on. 

Martine: Did he hold a book like a priest 
or something? 

Vicki: Huh? Oh, yeah. 

Martine: What kind of book? 

Vicki: Let me see. It was a Bible. He was 
holding in his hands. We even had rings. 
You know, I'm no saying expensive wed- 
ding rings but they was real Sterling. Any- 
way he say, "Kiss your bride and put the 
ring on the finger," and it was just like a 
real church. Except that afterwards, in- 
stead of throwing rice like they do in 
church, they're pouring beer all over us. 
While we're walking down the aisle. Three 

Martine: Did you sing? 

Vicki: No. But the Roman Kings they buy 
beer and they get us real high and then 
we're allowed to stay in the club. The club 

was our apartment for three days. It's in 
this wrecked building. It was our honey- 
moon. We stayed there for three days . . . 
without coming out [laughs]. If the Ro- 
man Kings would have seen us out before 
three days they would have sent us back 
in. Yeah. 

Martine: The two couples? 

Vicki: Huh? 

Martine: You were four people having a 
honeymoon in that apartment? 

Vicki: Yeah. There was two rooms, yeah 
[laughs]. There was two rooms. And we 
have fun [laughs]. 

Martine: Did you cook? 

Vicki: Yeah. 

Martine: And love? 

Vicki: Yeah [laughs]. 

Martine: And care for each other? 

Vicki: Yep. And from that day on, this 
happened four months ago, we're still 

Martine: And where was your little girl? 

Vicki: Huh? My little girl? My mother 
was with her. I told me mother about it. 
She didn't say nothing. My mother would 
take care of her and take her outside. 

Martine: Did your mother come to your 

Vicki: Are you crazy? 

Martine: There were no parents? 

Vicki: No, just us. But I feel it was nice, 
you know, because I've been raised by 
gangs. So to me it was nice. It was very 
nice . . . 

Martine: You were telling me about your 
sister who got raped in your building. 
What happened? 

Vicki: Well, she was going to school and 
she forgot her wallet. She came back up 
and this guy was in the elevator with her. 
They're friends so they was talking to 
each other. When they got to his floor he 
pushed her out and then he raped her right 
there. She stayed in her room after that. 
She didn't want to talk to nobody. She 
didn't want to tell nobody until long after. 
She told me. I told my mother. And till 
this day he still lives in the building. My 
sister, she always remember that. Right 
now she's living with her husband and 
when she has sexual, you know, inter- 
course with him she thinks of that and 
that fucks her up. But at least she told 
him. She told him what happened to her 
and he don't blame her. He knows what's 
happening. Some guys sooner or later get 
rough with you when that's happened but 
he takes care of her. He knows what she 
went through. Now they're all right. The 
rest of the rapes ain't around here. 
They're a few blocks down ... on Fox 
Street. I never heard of none around here. 

Martine: There are a lot of abandoned 
buildings there? 

(continued on page 10) 

I thought this would get some sympathy 
out of him, but you know what my moth- 
er used to say: You can't get sympathy out 
of -a stone. Next he blames my kid. Then 
he makes me sign a receipt and then he 
says, I don't care who did it, happens 
again, you pay. We aren't making free 
service calls when it's the customer's fault. 
Free service calls? I said. Listen: I paid 
$37 for that crummy contract that you 
people are dodging and I haven't called 
you once in a year. He said, you took that 
dial off and that's what I'm writing in my 
report. Well, I got furious. He was head- 
ing for the door. I was hollering. Creep, 
thinking he could scare me with his big- 
man report. Fat chance. Well, I'm writing 
in my report, I said, that's going to the 
Better Business and to the company that 
franchises your company and to the news- 
paper, that your company lies and that 
you came in here and were rude to me and 
insulted my husband and called my kid a 
destroyer . . . 

Well, water starts coming out of me 
when it shouldn't, same way it comes out 
of the machine. Meanwhile, he pockets 
the receipt and takes off. I breathe twice 
and start making up the letter in my mind 
and all the people I'm going to carbon 
in and then I remember I don't have his 
name or a receipt either so I go out in the 
street and run to catch up with him and I 
can hear my kid crying from the bedroom 
and I yell, What is your name? and he 
says, I don't have to tell you my name, 
and I say, Yes, you do, you work for a 
crummy company tries to gyp people but 
you do have to tell me your name. He kept 
on walking stone silent. I could have 
killed that jerk, I mean it. And I yelled, 
around to see if anyone on the street was 
going to attack him on my behalf, fat 
chance, but he didn't know that and he 
gave up half his name. He said, Bill. Well, 
this cool happy chill went right through 
me along with the words from that song, 
my kid sister used to sing it to me when I 
was practically still a baby, that just plain 
bill song, you know that song. I almost 
lost it thanks to that song, but I got it 
back and remembered his last name was 
on the receipt so I said, Give me the 
receipt. And he said, You don't get no 
receipt. And I said, Yes, I do, yes, I do. 
Give me my receipt. And he pulled the re- 
ceipt he'd waved in my face before when 
he was going to give me a bad report and 

he tore a copy off from under the carbon 
paper and I thought for a minute he was 
going to punch it into my mouth the way 
he punched at that doorbell but he didn't, 
he let go of it, and he got in his truck and 
drove off and I watched him and all the 
time I clutched the receipt in my hand and 
when he was gone, I looked at it, and it 
was pink, baby girl pink. 

But I won you know, anyway, I won. 
When I go to sleep tonight, I'm going to 
think about that instead of thinking about 
my ex on a chenille spread, and I'm going 
to think about him going home at five 
o'clock and hitting his wife because may- 
be she cooked something he doesn't like 
and then after he's had some beers and 
cooled off he'll go upstairs where she's 
lying in bed feeling sorry for herself, 
watching TV, and he'll say he's sorry, 
honey, and see he had this bad day, some 
crazy woman tried to cheat his company 
and was yelling at him in the street, and 
she'll pat his shoulder and say, It's all 
right, snooks, she knows how he feels, he 
works so hard for her and the kids, and he 
shouldn't take so much to heart. To 
heart! As if he had a heart. And then I 
guess they'll "make love," what a joke, 
and I'll go to sleep. I wonder who'll have 
worse dreams, her, or him? Not me, that's 
for sure. 

Tomorrow, if the sun's out again, I'm 
going to take the kid to the store and get 
me a frame for that pink slip, and if any- 
body asks me why it's hanging on my bed- 
room wall, like that social worker, for in- 
stance, who's always snooping around 
trying to find out that I'm committing 
adultery so she can throw me off ADC, 
I'm going to tell her it's a symbol of my 
victory. I don't care either if she writes 
maybe I'm making it with a washing ma- 
chine repair man. She can't prove any- 
thing because there's nothing to prove. I 
don't care if she does throw me off either. 
My kid's almost old enough to go to day- 
care. I can go to work. I can do almost 
anything. Listen: I got something out of a 
man he didn't want to give. 

— Sharon Thompson 

Vicki: Yeah. Most of Fox Street is aban- 
doned. The buildings are standing up by 
surprise. The gangs go there and forget it. 
First they use the basement and from the 
basement they move up and up and up. 
Then they have the whole building. In a 
few months the whole building is 

Martine: Like after a war. Your mother 
and people who live in places like that call 
those places "Korea." Do you think it's 
getting worse? 

Vicki: Oh, it's getting worser and worser. 
I've been living here for about eleven 
years. Since I was small. I seen buildings 
that just get put up and then I seen them 
get knocked down. I seen this place we 
live in when it was pretty. Yeah, pretty. 
When there was nice pretty buildings all 
over and now that I'm older they're not 
pretty anymore. When it was first built it 
was nice. Locks on the door in the front 
of the building and everything. But now 
it's all knocked down. I remember when 
that store [down the street] was built. 
They knocked it down. They ain't nothing 
there no more. There was a movie house 
up here. Right up the block but it burned 
down. It ain't a movie no more. People 
that are very close to me moved away be- 
cause of the neighborhood and things like 
that. But you got to live through it be- 
cause everywhere you go people are going 
to move away. There's going to be trouble 
no matter, where you are. Trouble always 
follows. Like I got a friend that died. She 
was close to me. Her name was Edna. She 
was going out with my brother and she 
ran away with him for a while. Her moth- 
er brang her back home and she was 
working. As a matter of fact she was 
working down Kelly Street where she 
died. They shot her four times in the back 
and she's dead. 

'Vickie's daughter Jennifer." 





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Martine: Who shot her? 

Vicki: We don't know who shot her. 
They said she look like another girl that 
they had a contract out on and they shot 
her four times in the back with a .38. She 
was in a different gang but she was close 
to me. Very close to me. When she died I 
felt it for a long time. I wouldn't be as 
happy as I was. I wouldn't talk a lot. I'd 
just stay to myself and sit alone. I felt like 
I lost one of my family when she died. I 
went to her funeral. I used to go down 
there to New Jersey and look at the grave. 
Now there's nothing. Just her name. But 
she was only fourteen when she died. 
Fourteen. Every time four days before my 
birthday I think about her. I just get real 
high and drunk. I try to forget about it be- 
cause if I keep on thinking about it it 
would be worse for me. That girl. I'll 
never forget. They thought she was an- 
other girl. They shot her because they 
thought she was the other girl. They shot 
her. We still don't know who it was . . . 

Martine: Do you think of moving out 
when you get older? 

Vicki: Sometime. But in a way I can't 
move because I was raised here so I'm al- 
ways going to come back. Either I'm 
going to come back to look at the place or 
I'm going to come back and wind up liv- 
ing down here. I'm never going to leave 
the place because I'm used to it. I'm used 
to one place and if I go to another I'm not 
going to get used to it. I love this place no 
matter how fucked up it looks. I was born 
here and raised here and I guess I'm going 
to stay here. Ain't nobody and no one 
going to stop me from doing what I want 
to do. If your mind is set up to do some- 
thing, you going to do it. I guess if I'm 
going to become something or if I'm go- 
ing to get fucked up I don't have to go out 
of state to do it. This is the South Bronx 
and you take it the way it is. When you 
come down here you got to live it. 

— Excerpted from 
Vicki. a videotape 
by Martine Barrat 


I am frightened by large men — muscles, 
or possibly it is fat, the men who 
make noises at women to prove that 
they are men. 

I am frightened by these seemingly 
strong hunks — but whose strength is 
spent at proving themselves thru 

I am frightened of these men in 
reality and abstract alike. 

It frightens me: their size, their hatred, 
their lack of love or passion, their 
absence of spirit. 

But . . . then I realize, the substance 
or glue that holds them together, that 
is responsible for their looming presence 
in my mind — is my fear. 

They are really no more than hollow 
shapes — kept intact and in the dark 
shadows I see at night — by women's 

For every woman who overcomes her 
fears — 

one of these men dies. Their comrades 
secretly attend the burial. Secretly. 

That is how they reproduce 

themselves — 

making women frightened. That is their 

birthing process. Delivered by all 


Doctored by fear. Nursed by women's 

fear of men. 

Women's silent scream of terror 
and fear is their scream of life. 

So the world screams alike. Silently. 

Women, by overcoming their fears, will 
take the glue (that holds these men 
together) away. 

far far far far away. 

And yet . . . I'm still frightened — 
even though I think I understand. 

Give me the strength to become 

stronger — so I too can overcome my 


then there will be one less. 

Of them. 

— Lou McDonald 


every 3 minutes a woman is beaten 

every five minutes a 

woman is raped/every ten minutes 

a lil girl is molested 

yet i rode the subway today 

i sat next to an old man who 

may have beaten his old wife 

3 minutes ago or 3 days/30 years ago 

he might have sodomized his 

daughter but I sat there 

cuz the young men on the train 

might beat some young women 

later in the day or tomorrow 

i might not shut my door fast 

enuf push hard enuf 

every 3 minutes it happens 

some woman's innocence 

rushes to her cheeks/ 

pours from her mouth 
like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn 
apart/ their mouths 
menses red & split/ every 
three minutes a shoulder 
is jammed through plaster & 

the oven door/ 
chairs push thru the rib cage/ 

hot water or 
boiling sperm decorate her body 
i rode the subway today 
& bought a paper from an 
east indian man who might 
have held his old lady onto 
a hot pressing iron/ i dnt know 
maybe he catches lil girls in the 
park & rips open their behinds 

with steel rods/ i cdnt decide 

what he might have done i only 

know every 3 minutes 

every 5 minutes every 10 minutes 

i bought the paper 

looking for the announcement 

there has to be an announcement 

of the women's bodies found 

yesterday the missing little girl 

i sat in a restaurant with my 

paper looking for the announcement 

a yng man served me coffee 

i wondered did he pour the boiling 

coffee on the woman cuz she waz stupid 

did he put the infant girl in 

the coffee pot cuz she cried too much 

what exactly did he do with hot coffee 

i looked for the announcement 

the discovery of the dismembered 

woman's body the 

victims have not all been 

identified today they are 

naked & dead/ some refuse to 

testify one girl out of 10's not 

coherent/ i took the coffee 

& spit it up i found an 

announcement/ not the women's 

bloated body in the river floating 

not the child bleeding in the 

59th street corridor/ not the baby 

broken on the floor/ 

"there is some concern 

that alleged battered women 

might start to murder their 

husbands & lovers with no 

immediate cause" 

i spit up i vomit i am screaming 

we all have immediate cause 

every 3 minutes 

every 5 minutes 

every 10 minutes 

every day 

women's bodies are found 

in alleys & bedrooms/ 

at the top of the stairs 
before i ride the subway/ 

buy a paper or drink 
coffee from yr hands i must know 
have you hurt a woman today 
did you beat a woman today 
throw a child cross a room 

are the lil girl's pants 

in yr pocket 
did you hurt a woman today 
i have to ask these obscene questions 
i must know you see 
the authorities require us to 
immediate cause 

every three minutes 
every five minutes 
every ten minutes 
every day 

— Ntozake Shange 


There are a number of traditional ways 
of explaining violence in human culture. 
The perspective on violence is usually con- 
gruent with a set of beliefs about the 
sources of human motivation and behav- 
ior. The argument has often been 
drawn along the Nature/Nurture divide, 
with biology and culture placed in oppo- 
sition to each other. We need to question 
explanations based on erroneous assump- 
tions and explanations which cannot ac- 
count for the male use of violence against 
women in specific historical periods and 
social contexts. We need to be critical of 
simple answers whether they are presented 
by male scientists or feminist authors. The 
stance of a self-reflective movement re- 
quires a careful evaluation of answers that 
mask ideology or refuse to include 
counter-examples, including the ways in 
which women participate in violence and 
oppression. Locating the cause of violence 
within biology, socialization or a violent 
society posits the cure for that violence 
within its own terms. Biological explana- 
tions demand biological treatment. Im- 
plicit in all theories of causation are the 
appropriate remedies or "cures." There 
are three broad theories about the causes 
of violences. 

1) Biological Explanations— Socio-biolo- 
gy, a newer version of biological deter- 
minism, seeks to explain human behavior 
as the result of complex interaction be- 
tween genes, drives and instincts and 
social environment. In this view, based on 



"Eye" of m 

Consciousness ~ 


^Repression Barrier 

hormonal differences, male aggression 
and violence is inevitable and natural: 
"boys will be boys." The only appropri- 
ate treatment is short-circuiting these 
drives by lobotomies, physical or chemical 
castration or a eugenics program that will 
breed gentler men. Some women would 
dispense with men altogether and institute 
a program of parthenogenisis. Similarly, 
those who attempt to explain women's 
subordination as a result of physiological 
differences in strength offer a biological 
determinist argument. This view rein- 
forces the status quo, as violence is seen to 
be inherent in the human race. 
2) Psychological Explanations — Here 
violence is not seen as a species problem 
but an individual problem. Usually vio- 
lence against women is termed an illness 
or pathology, an unfortunate deviation 
from "normal" male behavior. While 
some psychologists might believe it is na- 
tural for men to be aggressive and violent, 
some forms of violence are "sick," like 
rape and child molestation. The choice of 

treatment depends upon whether the vio- 
lence is seen to be deeply embedded in the 
unconscious during childhood or the re- 
sult of learning inappropriate behavior. 

If the key to male violence is to be 
found in the unconscious then only an ex- 
amination of intrapsychic structures can 
explain its occurence. This model claims 
that the Unconscious is basically un- 
bounded by history or culture, though 
influenced by socio-economic factors. 
Unconscious structures are seen to be uni- 
versal and as deeply embedded as 

Many psychologists who do therapy 
with sexual aggressives, a clinical name 
for rapists and wife abusers, endorse be- 
havior modification therapy. They believe 
that violence and aggressive sexuality are 
learned. The goal of treatment involves 
unlearning and relearning new modes of 
communication. Some programs teach 
volunteer rapists (those that are not in 
prison) how to have better heterosocial 

(continued on page 14) 


skills; the contention being that these men 
are often not assertive with women and 
fear rejection. Family therapists teach 
husbands new ways of communicating 
their anger to their wives . . . slamming a 
book on the table instead of hitting her, 
and wives are instructed in "negotiating" 
procedures. In this way their deviant be- 
havior will be brought into line with that 
of "normal" men. Questions of power 
differences between husbands and wives 
in the family and men and women in soci- 
ety are ignored, as well as traditional sex 
role definitions. 

3) Sociological Explanations— Here be- 
havior is not simply a result of human 
nature but is primarily conditioned by the 
environment. Violence is not an irrational 
phenomenon, nor is it an individual prob- 
lem (though it is experienced individually). 
Violence has a social function; as a re- 
source to be implemented when other 
resources are lacking. It is often seen as a 
last resort, to be called into play when 
power and authority are threatened, as in 
the case of the State quelling revolts or re- 
bellions. Violence can also be used as an 
interpersonal resource by individuals 
when others means of exercising control 
are blocked or lacking. This view inter- 
prets violence against women in the home 
as a husband's reaction to his questioned 
authority in the household. Women are 
often beaten when they are pregnant and 
also during periods of economic insta- 
bility. It is assumed that violence can be 
used to buttress male status in the family 
and the community. If men rape women, 
if they terrorize us in our homes and har- 
ass us on the street it is because men are 
utilizing a behavior (privilege) that is 
available to them as men, social beings 
operating within the rules of a culture. Is 
violence the backlash of a threatened 

Another social explanation is that vio- 
lence is the symptom of alienation. Men 
as workers are frustrated because condi- 
tions of labor are exploitative and social 
relations demeaning. The ultimate cause 
of violence then is an alienating social life 
under capitalism. This theory does not ac- 
count for the direction of the violence by 
class, race and gender, nor does it explain 
male violence in non-capitalist societies. 
Certainly the social conditions facing 
women under capitalism are as frustra- 

(continued on page 15) 


© IV18 PMA.* £RA^ 

ting. Women are socially and physically 
confined; our mobility, our life choices 
and life chances do not instill in us a sense 
of security or safety. We are paid less 
wages, have worse working conditions 
and do a double day. Yet we do not mo- 
lest or rape men. Whatever the cause of 
frustration, be it shaky male privilege or 
alienation, neither view relates frustra- 
tion/aggression theory to an analysis of 
gender relations. Violence is always re- 
lated to the structure of power. 

What most approaches to male violence 
share is the belief that sexual coercion and 
physical violation are somehow non-ra- 
tional or uncontrollable. Pent-up frustra- 
tion, whether it is sexual or political, must 
find its release. Women become the sacri- 
ficial victims as men work out 1. their ali- 
enation 2. their gender inadequacies 3. 
their inappropriate role modeling or 4. 
their instinctual drives. 

Women, like colonized people, must 
decide how to approach the complex rela- 
tionship between the system of male dom- 
ination and individual men. We have 
found that our discussions about the func- 
tion of violence in society often foun- 
dered on questions of assigning responsi- 
bility. Is the individual colonizer the 
enemy or the system that requires coloni- 
zation for its survival? Are individual men 
the enemy or the system that requires male 
domination? If colonialism serves the 
interests of all colonials, then does male 
supremacy serve the interests of all men? 

Theories abstract from the experience 
of women's daily lives to symbols and sys- 
tems of asymetical power relations. Wom- 
en who are daily fighting for survival, who 
are raped, sexually harassed on the job, 
tranquilized into passivity, and beaten 
cannot afford to make abstract theories. 
Merely blaming the system does not re- 
solve the issue of individual responsibility 
nor does it expand the analysis of social 
responsibility. One need not be substi- 
tuted for the other, but alone they are in- 
complete, disparate elements in the 
unfolding of patriarchal control. 









1HI ^IPilllP Jl&pJii 
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Although anthropology has contributed 
much important work on the status of 
women in non-state as well as state level 
societies, there remains the problem of in- 
terpreting what appears to be a universal 
asymmetry between sexes (Stack et al., 
1975; Reiter, 1975). Questions of women's 
power and/or powerlessness. vis-a-vis 
men nave not Deen sufficiently addressed 
(Webster, 1975). One way in which our 
understanding of sexual politics has been 
limited, and even distorted, is by the omis- 
sion of behavior that cannot be comforta- 
bly fitted into current theoretical mod- 
els. I would like to suggest that violence 
against women (from wife-beating to gang 
rape) must be included in any general 
analysis of women's status in society. 
Models which ignore or minimize the sig- 
nificance of physical force used against 
women will have to be reformulated, re- 
fined, or discarded. To begin this process 
of "revision" I will discuss the theoretical 
implication of rape in so-called "egalitar- 
ian" societies. I would like to suggest that 
the egalitarian model has obscured the 
fundamentally unequal position of wom- 
en in "primitive" society. Further, its un- 
questioned use by many anthropologists 
limits our understanding of the nature of 
non-state, pre-class society, and perpetu- 
ates a model of sexual equality which can- 
lot possibly account for the data on the 
ahysical abuse of women. Because of its 
ttplications for social praxis it is vital to ! 
Kderstand the factors which influence 
III relative power of women and men in. 
||ciety. To this end we must begin the 
alysis of the relationship 
power and physical 

The notion of a politically egalitarian 
stage of social organization was posited by- 
Morgan and then Fngels almost 10(3 years 
ago. Since that time much ethnographic 
data have been collected which challenge 
this evolutionary model, especially as re- 
gards Engels's understanding of "matri- 
archy" as a stage of sexual equality. ■ 
Engels's vision of reciprocity, comple- 
mentarity and even harmony is marred by 
the accounts of wife-beating, rape and 

gang rape that occur in foraging and hor- 
ticultural society. While the contemporary 
model is not conflict-free, the major por- 
tion of ethnographic space devoted to 
conflict concerns violence between men. 
Male violence against women is used as 
anecdotal filler; episodes are merely de- 
scribed, without analytic comment. 

I am not implying that all women in all 
primitive societies are raped, or threat- 
ened with rape; nor are they completely 
powerless, trembling before the majesty 
of men. The excellent work on Igbo wom- 
en by Van Allen (1972), and Ardener's 
work on female militancy in the Came- 
roons (1973), provide evidence that wom- 
en are not resourceless victims. Social 
power, being dynamic and diffuse, can be 
exercised by women, as well as by men, 
over particular areas of personal and so- 
cial life, with greater or lesser amounts of 
authority or success. No system of ine- 
quality can rest on force alone; therefore 
if women are subordinate to men in a cul- 
ture, this cannot be explained by men's 
greater strength or uncontrollable sex 

What I am suggesting is that the control 
over one's body and the right to resist or 
refuse its violation need to be included in 
any definition of social equality. In addi- 
tion, I am suggesting that rape and other 
forms of physical abuse define an unequal 
relationship, even in egalitarian society. 
If, in all human societies regardless of 
mode of production, the authority to use 
physical violence as a means of social con- 
trol is predominantly a male prerogative, 
then the asymmetry we observe is one of 
gender hierarchy that may be based in 
part on the threat as well as the use of 
physical force. This possibility is reason 
enough for anthropologists to begin an 
analysis of the significance and function 
of rape wherever it is found. 

An attempt to understand the role of 
rape in human history has been offered by 
Susan Brownmiller, in her work Against 
Our Will. She suggests that: 

From prehistoric times to the present, I 
believe, rape has played a critical func- 
tion. It is nothing more or less than a con- 


mmst Smm m&mm 




scious process of intimidation by which 
all men keep all women in a state of fear. 
. . . Female fear of an open season of rape 
. . . was probably the single causative fac- 
tor in the original subjugation of woman 
by man, the most important key to her 
historic dependence, her domestication by 
protective mating [1975:15-16]. 

Brownmiller's assertions are not sup- 
ported by any of the traditional theories 
of marriage as exchange, which imply so- 
cial contract and consensus. Despite her 
use or misuse of anthropological materi- 
als, the questions she raises about the role 
of force in the origins of female subordi- 
nation do not deserve our stony silence. If 
we choose not to respond, and to ignore 
the question of rape in the Paleolithic, we 
need at least to explain the presence of 
rape and its threat in contemporary hunt- 
ing/gathering and horticultural societies. 
Unless we are to assume, with 
Brownmiller, that men rape women 
because they can, anthropologists must 
offer a model that can explain the social 
and cultural motivations for rape in 
particular societal settings. I am assuming 
that rape is learned behavior and is 
therefore amenable to cultural analysis. 

Perhaps this analysis has not begun be- 
cause, despite its mystique, anthropology 
has had little to say about the cognitive 
and ideological aspects of sexual behavior. 
Most ethnographers find questioning in- 
formants about sexual intimacy difficult 
and/or embarrassing (Marshall and 
Suggs, 1972). The data on patterned sexu- 
al behavior that are available do not in- 
clude a category for rape. Ethnographic 
references to rape are scattered, fragmen- 
tary, anecdotal and biased. The descrip- 
tions are not quantifiable and rarely 
comparable. There is no organized body 
of descriptive or theoretical literature, no 
review articles, no bibliographies. Only 
one ethnography, Women of the Forest 
by Yolanda and Robert Murphy (1974), 
treats rape seriously. Levine's classic case 
study of rape in Gusiiland (1959) is the 
only extended analysis that offers hypoth- 
eses for cross-cultural testing. A survey of 
the Human Relations Area Files is needed 
so that some of the most basic informa- 

tion which is missing can be made avail- 
able. For example: 

In how many societies is rape found? 
What social, cultural and demographic 
factors are correlated with- its inci- 

With what frequency does rape occur? 
What are the social and personal re- 
sponses to rape? 

Although such a cross-cultural study is 
important, the utility of this approach will 
depend upon creating a cross-culturally 
applicable definition of rape. LeVine sug- 
gests for the Gusii that rape is a "cultur- 
ally disvalued use of coercion by a male to 
achieve the submission of a female to 
sexual intercourse" (1959:965). But what 
if coercion in seduction is culturally val- 
ued? Is this rape? Holmberg writes, "I 
heard of no cases of rape, i.e., of inter- 
course with a girl who had not yet under- 
gone the rites of puberty. When a man 
uses a certain amount of force in seducing 
a potential spouse who has passed 
through the rites of puberty, this is not re- 
garded as rape" (1968:168-169). Whose 
definition of rape should we use — -the an- 
thropologist's or the male informant's? It 
is difficult to imagine that men and wom- 
en always concur on such definitions, 
even in non-state societies. For example, 
Murphy and Murphy report that Mundu- 
rucu men find the topic of rape a source 
of great hilarity and sexual joking. Wom- 
en, who are threatened with gang rape, 
report it to be oppressive, cruel and arbi- 
trary, a threat to each of them, as it is 
meant to be (1974:138). The possibility 
that men and women live in autonomous 
but overlapping cognitive worlds makes it 
very likely that women and men concep- 
tualize and experience physical coercion 
and sexual violence very differently. Until 
anthropologists record women's percep- 
tions and subjective feelings, the problems 
of emic or etic definition will be further 
compounded by female/male biases (E. 
Ardener, 1975). 

Despite these problems, the data that 
we do have raise some critical questions 
about the role of rape in defining and re- 

(continued on page 18) 

/ "''*v,'i?.»^ 



fleeting women's status in primitive socie- 
ty. It is those data which I would like to 
examine now. 

From a cross-cultural survey done in 
1952 we know that in a sample of 110 
societies culled from the Human Relations 
Area Files, rape is considered one of the 
three most heavily sanctioned crimes 
(Brown, 1952). The severity of punish- 
ment ranges from death to the payment of 
compensation. We would need the full 
ethnography to explore the relationship 
between the type of punishment and the 
conceptualization of the crime. For exam- 
ple, are punishments for raping married 
women or non-virgins different than those 
for raping unmarried women, or virgins? 
Against whom is rape a crime? Who is the 
injured party, and what are the criteria 
used to determine guilt? 

Yet rape occurs in many societies where 
it is not considered a crime; in fact, it is 
institutionalized and culturally valued. 
This category of rape may be the more 
common, though at this time, no categori- 
zation can be inclusive or decisive. As 
rape is rigorously studied, a mature typol- 
ogy will be developed. In this broad divi- 
sion of institutionalized rape I would 
select two types which contain analytically 
important elements: (1) symbolic or ritual 
rape, and (2) punitive rape. Although 
these elements refer to how and when rape 
is used, the elements often blend. Thus, 
when rape is associated with ritual, it may 
also be sending a punitive message, and 
when rape is used as punishment there is a 
ritual-like quality to the event. 

Rape in some societies is associated with 
rituals of male solidarity and initiation 
into puberty. Kikuyu boys are required to 
rape a married woman of an enemy group 
before being eligible for intercourse and 
marriage with a Kikuyu girl. Eastern 
Bororo bachelors will gang rape a selected 
female who will then become a men's 
house associate, providing sexual services 
to all the men in turn. Her entrance into 
the men's house is marked by a ritual 
which requires her to be "tamed" (Crock- 
er, 1969:245). In Brazil the Akwe-Shavan- 
te, when asked what they missed most 
from the past, named their important ritu- 
al wai'.a, which involved the ceremonial 
rape of selected women (Maybury-Lewis, 

For women, gang rape can be associat- 
ed with their own puberty rites or mar- 
riage rituals. A Canela girl in Brazil is 
considered sexually available to all men in 
her community if she has taken or been 
taken by a lover. If she refuses the atten- 
tions of the men for several months, she 
will be gang raped while alone and away 
from the village. Her "stinginess" shames 
her family so that even if she is injured in 
resisting, compensatory payment will not 
be sought by her maternal uncles. The 
ethnographer assures us that "eventually 

the woman (Money and Ehrhardt, 1972). 
Edel writes of the Chiga, "It is considered 
merely touching that a child of six wept 
bitterly when she heard the crying of her 
father's girl-bride as the latter's marriage 
was being consummated in the traditional 
pattern of virtual rape" (Edel, 1957:63). 
Rape, or sequential group sex (as it is 
euphemistically known), could function 
as an ideological tool, one among many, 
which serves to impress upon men and 
women their sexual rights and preroga- 
tives. Normative sexual aggression for 
men and passivity for females is symbol- 
ically played out in rape. But the fear and 
pain that are involved in such violation 
make this act more than symbolic, for it 
involves physical force and resistance that 
is real. We might ask if women experience 
rape in ritual as an act of sexual aggres- 
sion and violence. Do women share men's 
reverence for such cultural performances? 
If they do, might we then ask whether 
there can be "false consciousness" in 
primitive society? 

When rape does not occur as part of a 
rite of passage we can more clearly see its 
function as a control of women's "appro- 
priate sex role behavior." It is therefore 
possible to see rape as a deterrent to or 
punishment for female insubordination. 



The photos on pp. 17-18 were taken at the Wax Museum, Coney Island 

... she learns to like to give herself in 
these group situations which take place in 
a spirit of gaiety" (Crocker, 1974:187). 

A young bride among the Marind Anim 
of southern New Guinea must have sexual 
intercourse with the male members of her 
husband's clan before he can have inter- 
course with her. This wedding ritual, ex- 
tending over several nights, is supposedly 
not a particularly satisfying experience for 

Adultery, disobedience and sexual asser- 
tiveness are punished by gang rape in 
some egalitarian societies. Wagley writes 
that the Tapirape would gang rape a wom- 
an who refused to work or refused to 
choose a husband after a number of trial 
marriages (personal communication). 
Mead writes that the Omaha may gang 
rape "wanton" women and that "the age 

(continued on page 20) 



After I was raped, I remember. Barely 
remember. Spent a long time going into 
other people's houses. I went around and 
told them, all these people that I didn't 
know, I kept repeating the story of being 
raped. It was real. The rape had really 
happened. But I wasn't really sure so I 
kept telling the story over and over again 
to make sure it had really happened. And 
I went and I repeated the story in all dif- 
ferent parts of my life, and I went and re- 
peated the story in all the other people's 
lives, that is to say in their houses, or on 
the streets. I told a woman I had met only 
once a year before when I passed her on 
the streets. I told the people at work. One 
of the people from work she took me 
home to her house. And then I moved in, 
I moved into her house with the other peo- 
ple I didn't know and I told them all 
about being raped. How did it go, the 
story? I was hitchhiking back from Clock- 
work Orange with my friend... He is 
going in to work at the Hungry Charley's 
Restaurant at Harvard Square. I am 
standing on the edge of Mass Ave. A car 
stops. I look in. I don't want to get in be- 
cause the man is black. But I think to 
myself, boy, you are really racist, get in 
you racist slob. So I get in. He asks my 
name. I say it's Batya. 

"What kind of name is that?" 

"Jewish name. It means Daughter of 
God." Maybe he doesn't like Jews. 
Maybe I shouldn't tell him I'm Jewish. 
Oh you racist slob just tell the man you're 

"Want a beer?" 


"What's the matter?" 

"Don't drink." Really I am afraid. He 
is drinking. He offers me drinks. He is 
asking too many questions. 

"What do you do?" 

"I'm a photographer." Maybe I 

shouldn't tell him that, maybe he'll be 
jealous. "I work in a camera store." 
Think of all the things the Jews did to the 

"Not in school kid?" 

He probably never got to go to school. 
But I did, because I'm Jewish. "No." 

"Nice dress, kid, nice boots." 

It's my best dress. Long corduroy 
brown dress. I look so good in it. I got it. 
One of those nice things you get for your- 
self when you are trying to feel real. Only 
nice dress I got. Nice coat. Big nice fur 
coat. Cheap coat. But nice. Fake fur. And 
big boots. Big brown lace boots. Big tall 
brown lace boots they cost me $35. One of 
the few nice things I ever bought for my- 
self. On my first paycheck I got myself 
these boots, and the dress, but someone 
gave me the coat. I think it was my 

"You are pretty kid." 


"You are real pretty." 

"Let me off here." 

"No. You are not getting out here." 

"What do you mean I'm not getting out 
here. This is my street." 

"This is my knife. You are not getting 
out here." 


"I know J am going to die. Why should 
I come. I should come just so I can die?" 

"Look this isn't much fun." 

"For you it's not much fun. I'm going 
to die." 

"I go to all this trouble — I get you 
booze, beer, anything." 

"I never touched your beer. I don't 
need to drink beer, if I'm going to die." 

"What — whadya mean — " 

"Well. I'm going to die. I don't need 
beer. Everything's clear. I-I-" 

"Shud up and come." 

"Get your god damn mouth off my 
breast. That's my breast and I don't want 
your slimy tongue. On it." 

"But— uh— " 

"Pooh. You said you were going to 
rape me and kill me. What does that have 
to do with my breast? Get your lousy lips 
and your god damn tongue off my 
breast!!! Look at the rain! Or is it snow? 
On the windshield. Look at it go, slowly, 
gently down into the — " 

"Will you cut that out, I'm— I'm— " 

"Yes the rain passes frozen down the 
shield of our hearts... Life goes..." 

"I'm — trying to come — with you 
talking it's not much fun!" 

"...on and on... drops, rolling off our 
(continued on page 21) 

Claire Pajaczkowska: We've decided to 
use these last three pages where the dia- 
logue turns into two parallel monologues 
and the rapist is a middle-class white 
academic/professional. In the earlier part, 
the confrontation is with a black working- 
class rapist. To compare these situations, 
without an examination of the ways in 
which rape laws have served as a tool to 
enforce white supremacy, could be inter- 
preted as racist. 

Batya Weinbaum: Let's talk about the 
piece formally first. The power of the 
complete dissociation in the final "paral- 
lel monologues" comes hpme because the 
initial piece begins as a real conversation. 
The rapist and the female character are 
talking about the same thing to each 
other — beer, the Israeli name, etc. Then 
she begins to withhold what she is think- 
ing — saying one thing and feeling/think- 
ing another. By the second section she is 
saying out loud things which perhaps are 
inappropriate — she is receding into the 
internal monologue with herself. Then in 
the follow-up scene with the "middle- 
class rapist" she repeats the dissociation 
pattern. This form of non-discourse was 
first motivated with the original rapist. 
The point is how such violent experiences 
last over into other supposedly remote 
parts of a woman's life, like years later in 
bed with someone with whom she has 
chosen to be a lover. 

(continued on page 21) 


mates of an Iatmul husband may rape his 
recalcitrant wife into submission at his re- 
quest" (quoted in Murphy, 1959:94). 
Murphy reports that Mundurucu women 
will be raped if they flout male authority 
by violating the behavioral norms for their 
sex. In such rapes, "exogamic restrictions 
connected with moieties and clans are dis- 
regarded" (Murphy, 1959:94). A Che- 
yenne husband who had been cuckolded 
indiscreetly could invite all members of his 
military society to gang rape his wife. Al- 
though it was only reported four times to 
Hoebel, in one case a woman had been 
raped by forty men and left to die. Whe- 
ther it was used sporadically or not, rape 
was an available form of punishment of 
women. Hoebel claims elsewhere in his 
book, "The Cheyennes cherish the indi- 
vidual personality. . . . Punishment, in 
their view, need go no further than is nec- 
essary to make the individual see the 
right" (Hoebel, 1960:51). This comment, 
tragically inadequate, is typical of ethnog- 
raphers who report violence toward wom- 
en in egalitarian societies. 

It seems that when women act like men, 
defying rules that restrict their movement 
and sexual choices, they must be pun- 
ished, and the punishment must fit the 
crime. Murphy claims rape is merely a 
specific cultural expression of the univer- 
sal ambivalence that men feel toward 
women. Mightn't this antagonism go both 
ways? Women, however, have not invent- 
ed their version of gang rape for dealing 
with inappropriate male behavior. Sham- 
ing, humiliation and beatings of men by 
groups of women still are not directly 
analogous to the violation of the body 
that rape entails. This all seems to imply a 
universal double standard for sexual con- 
duct that is extraordinarily harsh and vin- 
dictive to women. Mead alludes to the 
possible reasons for this double standard: 

If society is to survive the culture must 
provide for the disciplining of female 
receptivity, whether by permitting females 
no opportunity for unconventional 
responsiveness or by inculcating stan- 
dards of modesty and sexual ethics which 
prevent the majority of females from 
according sexual access to males to such a 
degree that they jeopardize the marriage 
arrangements through which males are 
persuaded to assume responsibilities of 
parenthood [1961:1457]. 

Could this mean that rape or its threat is 
not only an expression of male solidarity, 
symbolic male dominance or symbolic 



>/-' ■ 


fear of female dominance, but a way of 
controlling women's reproductive poten- 
tial? By instilling fear in young women 
there is less possibility that they will vio- 
late norms of modesty or sexual propriety, 
and control over reproduction remains in 
the domain of men. The obvious problem 
with such a conjecture is that it assumes 
that rape has an adaptive significance in 
terms of community survival. That wom- 
en are raped and beaten for the good of 
the community carries the ecological ap- 
proach too far. If, as I have always be- 
lieved, culture is created by both sexes, the 
advantage of rape for women, or their 
part in perpetuating it, is difficult to con- 
ceive. Obviously we need to know much 
more about the socialization to hetero- 
sexuality in all cultures, and the biological, 
cognitive and ideological aspects of hu- 
man sexual behavior. 

To begin to unravel the threads that 
interweave gender, power and physical 
force, a cross-cultural analysis of consid- 
erable depth and sensitivity is required. 
The meaning and function of rape cannot 
be understood in any society until we col- 
lect more reliable data, construct mean- 
ingful categories and critique existing 
theories of political power and interper- 
sonal politics in primitive society. We 

need to correlate the incidence of rape 
with differing modes of production, kin- 
ship structure and political organization. 
We need to understand more about the 
sources of sexual antagonism and other 
forms of conflict between men as a class 
and women as a class. We have to know 
more about the role of sexuality and its 
control in human society. We have to send 
more female ethnographers into the field 
to pursue studies of all aspects of wom- 
en's lives, so that our definition of culture 
is complete. 

I am encouraging anthropologists and 
feminists to reconsider their theoretical 
and emotional attachment to a model of 
harmonious sexual equality in egalitarian 
societies. Such an idealization obscures a 
fundamental power relationship. 

What Rubin (1975) has called the sex/ 
gender system has undoubtedly under- 
gone important historical transformations 
which we need to study. Only a very static 
model of sexual politics could explain 
female/male relations everywhere and at 
all times. As we begin to construct new 
paradigms for the political relationship of 
the sexes, the variable of rape must be in- 
cluded and accounted for. 

If, as Susan Brownmiller argues, rape is 

(continued on page 22) 



backs, hard. Hard as..." 

"I can't even keep a hard on — come 
on — I'm in control — god damn..." 

"Melancholy. For some reason I am 
seized with melancholy. Tell me. Are you 
seized with melancholy? Golly? Gee? Are 
you never seized with melancholy? Is that 
particular to me? Funny. At this time. . . it 
seems... universal... to me." 

"See that house up there? Come on. 
We're going in there." 

"No. Absolutely not. Why should I get 
out of this car. Why only a few minutes 

"OUT. I said out! I'm taking you up 

"No. You wouldn't let me out. I tried 
to get out, you pulled a knife. I tried to 
write you a check, you wouldn't let me 
out. You said you didn't want my money. 
Money can't save your life. Isn't that fun- 
ny. Although I was prepared to give you 
all the money I had. Although I had been 
decent and honest enough to tell you— 
and I told you— $50 was all I had. No. 
You could only growl. You would not let 
me out." 

"Out! God damn it!" 

"Then, when we stopped at the stop- 
light, you were so afraid I was going to get 
out, or wave, at the policeman, you 
shoved my head down beneath the dash- 
board, you tried to stuff me, whole, be- 
neath the seat, though all of me wouldn't 

"Look, I'm taking you in this house up 

"No. I told you. Absolutely not. You 
told me you were going to rape me and kill 
me. Right here in this car. Tell me, do you 
often go back on your word? That's ab- 
surd! A person's last hour alive and they 
should be lied to? Not even truth in the 
last hour they have to live? Tell me, do 
you think much, about what you are 
doing? Can't you give someone HON- 
ESTY in' the last hour they are to live?" 

"In that house are waiting lots of guys. 
You could make lots of money. Come 
into the house and fuck these guys." 

"Are you kidding? You are a pimp? 
But you said you were an auto mechanic! 
After I said I worked in the photography 
store, you said your job was to fix cars?" 
"I — I'm not a pimp — I — I'm just a 
regular guy — " 

"Your duty is to go round up pretty 
women from the streets and bring them 
back to fuck with a house full of guys? 
Yes, I think that means you're a pimp. 

And you said you were an auto mechanic. 
Why did you have to lie? Rounding up 
girls for gang banging. My eye. I'd rather 
die... Go on... Kill me... Go on, I said. 
OK. You couldn't fuck me. But you did 

"You. You are one hell of a — " 
"Were. I were one hell of a— please ad- 
dress me in the past tense. I'm going to 
die. Any minute now. Die. D-I-E. I will be 


"Ron, I, I can't" 

"Oh come on now. Hold your legs up. 
Open. High." 

"I, I can't. I haven't fucked for at least 
a year. 

"Now's a good time to start. Listen 

"No, it hurts, see, by now it actually 
gives me physical pain." 

"Come on, I'll be gentle, quick. You 
won't feel anything, I promise." 

"God damn it, you don't understand, 
I, I was raped, and — " 

"So what does that have to do with 

"And for a year or so I didn't fuck 
men, then — " 

"But you wanna fuck me now, see? I'm 
special, gentle, kind, quick, fast. You 
won't feel a thing, I promise. Now open 
your legs up, fast." 

"Then I began to rape men, attack 
them, pick them up, strangers: take them 
to bed, from the streets, never see them 
again, deliberately, even walk out while 
they were lying still in bed, deliberately 
hurting them, I thought, and — " 

"Well ya ain't a doin' nuthin a the kind 
to me." 

"I began to do this, in Latin America 
traveling alone, and — " 

"What does all this have to do with me! 
Me me me!" 

"Then I came back here, gave up men, 
started with women, gave up women, and 
now, for over a year..." 

"Do you know I did my master's thesis 
on the philosophy of abstract numbers?" 

"ye-bu-R-I— " 

"Yes, I'm at least as smart as you, 

"The most I could do was get in bed 
with a man, but not really fuck, I, if they 
wanted to fuck, I, just lay there, still, 
while they — " 

"Since I have also completed my law 
degree, I have found—" 

"They, forced themselves inside of 

me_ ■" • J Til 

(continued on page 22) 


CP: Formally I think the last three pages 
work as a complete unit. The dialogue 
provides within itself a specific context. 
But there are problems... 1 feel if we are 
going to deal with the situation of white 
middle-class women being raped by black 
working-class men it should be done with 
some perspective on the whole issue, in- 
cluding the long history of white men rap- 
ingblackwomen and what that has meant/ 
means in a racist society. 

BW: OK. Look, let me say that Heresies is 
not the first or only feminist publication 
to reject these initial pieces on the grounds 
that the rape of white women by black 
men is "too controversial" to be treated 
in this form. However, this form is genu- 
ine—it took me five years to even write 
about the experience. I knew all those 
statistics about more rapes happen intra- 
than inter-racially before I even got into 
the car. The consciousness of racism was a 
factor in my paralysis as a female. The 
problem of this paralysis in itself is politi- 
cally significant. Remember that one 
source of the women's liberation move- 
ment was the experience of white women 
going down to the South to work on civil 
rights for blacks, whereupon the fact that 
they were not only white but women put 
them in a double bind. They were called 
racist if they wouldn't sleep with black 
men, and they were called racist if they 
did. Women continued to participate in 
their oppression— by placing priority on 
the rights of others, putting consciousness 
of their own oppression as women aside. 
My character— or my former persona- 
did that as soon as she chastised herself 
for being racist when she had misgivings 
about getting into the car. Unfortunately 
the feminist movement cannot see fit to 
provide a forum for discussing that para- 
lysis. This I see as doing a disservice to the 
feminist movement. And about those sta- 
tistics—those statistics about how my 
experience was atypical made me bury my 
feelings for years. Right after I was raped, 
that very next evening, I went to tell the 
story to some friends. Immediately I was 
asked, "Was he black?" and I became 
completely hysterical, blithering those sta- 
tistics—don't you understand, I stam- 

(continued on page 22) 


pout ics m rape 

an act of intimidation and control, then 
we must begin our investigations and the- 
orizing by rephrasing Freud's dilemma, 
asking "What do these men want?" 

— Paula Webster 


Ardener, Edwin. "Belief and the Problem of 
Women," In Perceiving Women, ed. Shirley Ardener. 
New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1975. 
Ardener, Shirley G. "Sexual Insult and Female 
Militancy," Man 8(3):422-440. 1973. 
Brown, J.S. "A Comparative Study of Deviations 
from Sexual Mores," American Sociological Review 
17:135-146. 1952. 

Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will: Men, Women, 
and Rape. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1975. 
Crocker, Christopher. "Men's House Associates 
Among the Eastern Bororo," Southwestern Journal 
of Anthropology 25:236-259. 1969. 
Crocker, W.H. "Extra-marital Sexual Practices of the 
Ramkokamekra-Canela Indians: An Analysis of 
Socio-cultural Factors," In Native South Americans: 
Ethnology of the Least-Known Continent, ed. P.J. 
Lyon. Boston: Little, Brown. 1974. 
Edel, May. The Chiga of Western Uganda. New York: 
Oxford University Press. 1957. 
Hoebel, E.A. The Cheyenne. New York: Holt, 
Rinehart and Winston. 1960. 

Holmberg, Alan. The Nomads of the Long Bow. New 
York: American Museum Press. 1968. 
LeVine, Robert. "Gusii Sex Offenses: A Study in So- 
cial Control," American Anthropologist 61:965-990. 

Marshall, D.S. and R.C. Suggs. Human Sexual Be- 
havior: Variations in the Ethnographic Spectrum. 
New York: Basic Books. 1972. 

Maybury-Lewis, David. Akwe-Shavante Society. Ox- 
ford: Clarendon Press. 1967. 

Mead, Margaret. Male and Female. New York: Mor- 
row Press. 1949. 

Mead, Margaret. "The Cultural Determinants of Sex- 
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W.C. Young. Philadelphia: Williams and Wilkins, 

Money, John and Anke A. Erhardt. Man and Wom- 
an, Boy and Girl. New York: New American Library. 

Murphy, Robert. "Social Structure and Sex Antag- 
onism," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 
15:89-98. 1959. 

Murphy, Yolanda and Robert Murphy. Women of the 
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"That my ability to abstract about the 
philosophy of numbers — " 

"And, but, some of them didn't like to 
do that, while I just lay back still; and I 
found that very depressing, because, 
because, god damn it, it was, the, most I 
could do, give — the most I could — the 
most — 1 — and, it didn't mean anything to 
them, none of them, they scoffed and they 
laughed, 'so what's this: like fucking into 
a hand!' when I had thought the most I 
could do was jerk them off — but — " 

"Has often helped me in winning very 
important case. I use the singular, 'case,' 
because actually in my whole life I have 
only tried one. And do you know how to 
come, about the negative square root of 
one? one real law case? in my whole? life? 


"Ron, I, I don't know what to say, 

"I told you. Just the way you held your 
legs... gotta loosen up, raise 'em up over 
your head, let go." 

"I— it's like— I feel— the first time I 
ever — " 

"Yap, you were clenching me, like a 
crab. Gotta open 'em up, lift 'em high, 
back over your head, or, at least, try." 

"Ron, I — I think I'm in love with 
you — I — what a wonderful thing for you 
to do— for — me!" 

"Yap. Then, though, you could relax, 
let go. Don't always have to keep 'em up, 
perpendicular to the bed, waving 'em over 
your head; you could've, after I got in, 
let, go." 

"Ron, when you go back to your law 
practice in the South, can I go, too — " 

"Yap, but I realized you were scared to 
move, after the start, yap I know." 

"I mean — it was— so— I didn't feel a 
thing! Not one twinge, or rip, or sock, 
smack, nothing! Isn't it wonderful! Oh! 
Ron! What kind of a house will we live to- 
gether down south in? Oh! oh oh oh! 
Think of it! No more pain! I didn't come 
but oh! Ron! Please kiss me now on the 
mouth! Please! You're so gentle, kind! I 
didn't feel ripped apart, cut open, no — 
pain — " 

"Listen, have you read — I was just 
reading Lenin on the National Question. 
Yes, now Lenin's position on the black 
belt nation of the South is..." 

— Batya Weinbaum 


mered — most rapes happen between white 
men and white women, between black 
men and black women — don't blame the 
blacks — you don't understand — . And do 
you know what? I was taken out to look 
at the river by my single black male gay 
friend — who had been just as brutalized 
by his own experience of bravado 
sexuality in his own community. My black 
friend, not the white men or the political 
women — who were also prone to calling 
me racist for quite some time — could give 
me comfort and understanding. 

CP: It's not that one should write/publish 
only material that deals with stereotypic 
situations: but of all the things that could 
happen in Cambridge, Mass. [haven of 
the white middle-class], to write about 
what was probably the only black guy on 
Harvard Square is atypical in the extreme 
— that's why, within the context of Har- 
vard, the dialogue with Ron, the pro- 
fessional lawyer, is really more incisive 
and ultimately more lucid. 

BW: Good. Then we agree. 




f!!™. . WmWi&^M. JiUv^wWv n vy yftmxS I HI DEUSE 




01 EU LE 



L E P E T e 

s U I S AIT 

II U £ 

J E 

/ k E ' T E E N ■ 

F E R M f a| N S| UN 

! A S I L E D ' A L I E N 

A R t a U D 

E S 

— Nancy Spero 

and females become masculine and femi- 
nine. But this development is not the 
unfolding of some genetic blueprint: it re- 
quires learning a complex set of rules and 
rituals which create rather than reveal 
what it means to be a man or a woman in 
a society. 


Women can fight fires and men car 
care for children. Sex-role socialization 
can be modified by raising consciousness 
in schools, in the media and in the home. 
There remains, however, an unspoken 
and unshaken conviction that some thing; 
will never change, that maleness and fe- 
maleness are discrete and static and thai 
this difference is linked to the "innate' : 
heterosexual qualities of each group. The 
fundamental differences are assumed tc 
be sexual: different amounts of libido, 
different sexual needs, a different nature. 







pressing their "female side" and womer 
expressing their "male side" leaves un 
challenged sexist definitions of what i: 
masculine and what is feminine. 

We know next to nothing about unen- 
cumbered sexuality. But it would seem 
sexuality more closely resembles a con- 
tinuum than a polarity. 

We must continue our own explorations 
into the process by which we become fem- 
inine and at the same time we must 
analyze the ways in which men become 
masculine and how each becomes hetero- 
socialized. Where gender identity and the 
institution of heterosexuality coincide, we 
might begin to look at the role of violence 
by men against women. 

Male dominance and aggression paired 
with female passivity and submission are 
the key elements in heterosocial romance. 
They are also the key elements of hetero- 
sexual violence. Getting in and holding 
off are the strategies of gender politics. 
The distinction between "normal" sex 
(which involves a certain amount of force) 
and rape is a matter of degree and not 
kind. Culturally, the act of penetration is 
itself a paradigm for male dominance. 

f|G* S 1 

Men and women learn a complex set of 
rules about sex and aggression. Men learn 
that aggressive behavior is valued and that 
fighting in self defense or to protect others 
is expecte'd. Women learn that men will 
protect them, if they are "good," and 
that because of men's greater strength and 
social power it is better not to provoke 
them. Fear of being labeled homosexual 
enforces compulsive masculinity. The 
male subculture celebrates sexual victories 
and offers approval and prestige for those 
who compete and win. At the same time, 
female subculture transmits male-defined 
values and encourages submission to and 
adoration of "real" men. Deference is 
raised to almost religious proportions, but 
when it is withdrawn men often react vio- 
lently. The protection racket extracts an 
u nusually high price from women. 

Cross-culturally there are variations in 
what it means to be male or female but 
gender hierarchies appear to be universal. 
Because heterosexuality/heterosociality is 
a construction of culture, it may be played 
out differently in the future. Masculinity 
and femininity may become less polarized, 
less a process of psychic and sexual defor- 
mation. Unless we work toward the elimi- 
nation of rigid gender categories, the 
power that has remained in men's hands 
for millenia will merely take new forms. 
In order to end male privilege we must not 
only continue to challenge the definition 
of "female," but also we must expose the 
mystique of masculinity. Both men and 
women will have to give up the myth of 

ria est della citta. Al momen- 
to dell'omicidio si trovavano 
nell'appartamento — situato 
al piano riaizato di una pa- 
lazzina popolare nel quartiere 
detto « Due madonne » — due 
dei tre figli delia coppia, Mau- 
rizio di 17 anni e Paola di 11, 
oltre alia madre dell'assassl- 
no Maria. 

Rosario Sodaro e stato ar- 
restato da agenti della squa- 
dra mobile mentre tentava dl 
fuggire ed e stato rinchiuso 
nelle carcerl di San Giovanni 
in Monte. 

Becondo le prime lndagini, 
I'omicldio e m&turato in un 
ambiente familiare reso sem- 
rie dl 
Iti da 
si vi 

una ragazza 

HANNO tentato di sequestrare 
una ragazza, ma sono stati su- 
bito presi e chiusi a Rebibbia. 
E' avvenuto verso le 23.30 di 

ieri not 

wojua £a 

aauale Fili- 




fijnal Royal. 

Due i 


r| J bor 

•So fai una 

« 1750 >j 

Tito ltntat< 

B d| far sa- 

lire a 

r<* fella 

flojo auto. 

con la 


m, ma ri 

gaeza. Ga- 


0r / 

Slagf. 20 i 

rcnl via Sa- 



a.fpero. ha 


^tenacelrefistenza e 

s'e mej 


'a gridaii 





ilti alcuni 


?*iti a met- 

tere ir 

ga l due 

giovani e 

a rilevare il numero di targa 
della macohina che hanno co- 
municato subito al 113: Roma 
N 81963. E' scattata. diretta dal 
dottor Lococo, dirigente del V 
distretto di polizia. una opera- 
zione a vasto raggio e la zona 
e stata subito chiusa in una 

aspettare tre anni - t 
di farla finita - Le he 
occhi e 1'ho uecisa - 
avuto il coraggio di 

incidente non si riebbe mai 
completamente e venne ricove- 
rato ner tin nertn nerindn. in 

va lei, la sua ragazza: era ge- 
loso, aveva paura di perderla. 



4^/W kdmt/^f^^. 

II corpo privo di vita del- 
la giovane nappista e 6tato 
trasportato all'obitorio alle 
3. a dlsposiZione dell'autorita 

FIRENZE, 9. - « Fino aila vit- 
toria sempre >: queste parole 
pronunciate da Anna Maria 
Mantini davanti al cadavere 

del fratell 
conflitto af fi 
nieri il 
scorso, ofeg: 
date comJla' 
be indotto 
dere la si 
politico, i| 
ha trovah 
quella dellfr! 
nosceva pe: 

rjcciso in un 

n i carabi- 

: dell'anno 

enfeono ricor- 

.11 che avreb- 

g; sza a pren- 

, terrorismo 

alia quale 

e uguale a 

Chi la co- 

accetta que- 

sto ragionamento, che in effet- 
ti appare sin troppo elementa- 
re. Quelle frasi, dicono qui i 
conoscenti di Anna Maria Man- 
tini, sono dovute al grande af- 
fetto che la ragazza provava 
per il fratello ed anche al mo- 
do in cui era morto. 
la storla crudele di Anna Ma- 
ria Mantini passa aH'archl- 
vio come « Incidente sul la- 
voro ». Ad ogni livello e ecat- 
tata la saracdnesca a prote- 
zione della meccanica del 
sanguinoso episodio. Neppu- 
re un ten.te.tivo di racostru- 
zione dell'attimo In cui il 
proiettile-jmldbr^ 9 <, conflc- 
cd nel_/vo|to 
ne conflrrjati 

delta lrtovane 

'a. Ii \fcrs o e Lei bri- 

tttmi| 1 is wl Ho vie- 

c ii si perlorl 

e dal mlglltrsb b> n m era- 

no sul bo&o 

ficlalme ite si 

Restai o 
bablle ra ci< 
sottuffic al e 
entramli a 

i sU ria uf- 
ch u e. 

ut ii I irapro: - 
c fei :o del 
di II l igazza, 
, tj af vu toiatL^ tle ma- 
deTIa norlU e la c 


La vittima abbandon 

NAPOWs li - 
sta, l'uor 10 3h 
ventenne T' els 

tre la r ga sz . 

china in lei le al sio 
te, conti mi 4T"oIr 
non volf /a, u«;i 
vane. E' st ,toI u; 
cui orig ne s^ 


un individuo che trovava mo- 
tivo di eccitazione nel vedere 
le coppie fare 1'amore. Lo ha 
detto lui stesso. Non sappia- 
mo se Tecla Iandolo, che 
abitava al rione San Tom- 
maso di Avellino, sapesse che 
l'uomo con il quale si ac- 
compagnava, Saverio Stor- 
naiuolo, era sposato ed aveva 
due figli. 

Quando domenica sera An- 
tonio Festa si e avvlcinato 
alia macchina ferma sul via- 
dotto della variante di Avel- 
lino per Agribalda la ragazza 
era completamente nuda e di- 
6tesa sul sedile accanto a 
quello d 
Erano u^SsJte 
Antonip_ I 5st 
quenner^pt >at 
cinque filli [su 
Boca e fet nuta 
berata t 
veva co 
nella m 
vano ape' 

_rso il 
tello di 

Translated excerpts from 
Happy New Year, An Album 
of Violence 

May/75 Twenty years ago her husband 
was hurl at work. 

Bologna 26— A pensioner, Rosario Soda- 
ro, 49 years old, killed his wife, Rosina 
Nobile, 48 years old . . . According to 
the first investigation, the murder grew 
out of a family situation made increasing- 
ly tense by a series of disagreements 
between tne couple who came originally 
from Termini Imerse, near Palermo. It 
seems at the bottom was an accident that 
occurred twenty years ago to Rosario So- 
daro, who was a bricklayer, when he was 
hit on the head by a falling brick. He nev- 
er fully recovered from that accident and 
was hospitalized for a certain period for 
nervous disorder. . . .Left her home to 
pass the night at her father's home . . . 
"Papa said to tell mama to come home or 
he would kill her," the boy said. . . . 
Knocking down the door with his shoul- 
der, smashing it open with a knife . . . 
closed inside the bedroom . . . opened a 
switchblade ... in the heart, the arm, and 
the throat. 

July/75 She put the key in the door. 

(Anna Maria Mantini was killed by police 
who were waiting inside an apartment 
used by the left-terrorist group, NAP, as a 

Florence 9— "Until victory, always": 
these words pronounced by Anna Maria 
Mantini in front of the body of her broth- 
er, Luca, killed in a shoot-out with the 
police on Oct. 29 of last year, become re- 
membered as the trigger that forced the 
girl to take the road of political terrorism 
which led to an end equal to her brother's 
... the cruel story of Anna Maria Man- 
tini passes into the archives like an "acci- 
dent on the job". At every level, a heavy 
door has slammed shut to protect the 
mechanism of this bloody episode. . . . 
Doubts remain. The improbable wrestling 
between the brigadiere and the girl as both 
clutched the door handle and the position 
in which the body was found on the land- 
ing. . . . The bullet hit the left cheekbone 
of the girl from a distance of about 50 
centimeters. The lesion caused instantane- 
ous death. 

— Stephanie Oursler 

The Pleasure Outing 

Down near the edge of the lake there was 
sand, but further back there was grass and 
trees. Bradley said, "Let's sit by the 
water, let's sit in the sand," but Katie's 
father said it wasn't sand it was mud 
which was okay for pigs like Bradley, but 
people would rather sit on the grass. Katie 
said, "I guess I'm a person because I like 
the grass better too." She was carrying the 
towels and her mother was carrying the 
lunch and her father was carrying the 
blanket. "Who asked you," her father 

Her mother wanted to put the blanket 
down under a tree but her father said he 
hadn't come up to the lake to sit in the 
shade. He had come up to get a suntan, he 
said. He set the blanket down in the mid- 
dle of the grassy slope near where a lady 
was sitting with her little girl eating hard- 
boiled eggs and Ritz crackers. The sun 
was so bright and the lake and the grass 
and the sky were so bright that Katie had 
to squint her eyes. 

Her mother put down the shopping bag 
that had the lunch in it and she and 
Katie's father spread out the blanket. 
Katie put the towels down next to the 
shopping bag and took off her shorts and 
her shirt. They were all wearing their bath- 
ing suits under their clothes. Bradley and 
Tom were wearing cut-off old trousers of 
Bradley's but Katie had a real bathing 
suit, a blue one-piece one, and not under- 
wear like last year. 

Bradley asked if they could go in the 
water, but Katie's father said they could 
wait until he was ready to take them in. 
Her father lay down on the blanket and 
put his arms under his head and it looked 
to Katie as if he was going to lie that way 
for a long time. Then Bradley said, 
"Please can't we go in, please can't we go 
in," and Katie held her breath and wished 
he wouldn't v do that. She wanted to go in 
too, she was sweaty and the lake was so 
blue, but she knew that begging would 
just get her father mad. 

But Bradley kept begging. "Why can't 
we go in alone?" he whined. "We went in 

alone last year." That was true, Katie 
knew. She had gone in alone last year and 
the boys had gone in alone too, just at the 
edge. Then her father said he was starting 
to think that maybe Bradley shouldn't go 
in the water at all for the whole day. Then 
finally Bradley knew enough to shut up 
and he asked if he and Tom could go play 
in the sand. Her father said that was just 
the place for two pigs like them. 

Then Bradley and Tom went down to 
where the sand was and Tom's shorts that 
were really Bradley's old trousers were so 
big for him that they hung down to his 
knees and his behind almost showed. Her 
father was lying on his back and he 
watched them go, squinting, without pick- 
ing up his head. He said to Katie's mother, 
"Will you look at that one?" meaning 
Tom. Her mother laughed, like she really 
thought Tom looked cute with his pants 
hanging down. Then her father said, 
"Boy you really dressed him up good. 
He's a real beauty." Then her mother 
stopped laughing and said that none of 
Tom's trousers were worn out and she 
didn't see the point in cutting the legs off 
a perfectly good pair. Her father said, 
"He's a real beauty. You dressed him up 
real good," and shut his eyes. 

Then her mother lay down on the blan- 
ket too and closed her eyes. Katie sat on 
the grass and watched them. She hoped 
they would be able to go in the water 
soon. She saw the sweat on her father's 
forehead and she knew that if it hadn't 
been for Bradley's begging they would 
have been in the water that minute. 

Her mother and father lay there in the 
sun, their faces turned up to it. Katie 
thought it was like they were saying, here I 
am sun, burn me up, burn me up. They 
were lying with their eyes closed, not 
talking and she didn't understand how 
they could do that for so long and not get 

There were people running into the 
water and kids jumping in off the dock, 
splashing and yelling. She could see Brad- 

(conlinued on page 29) 


This introduction is a personal one. The 
topic of violence against women only sur- 
faced quite recently, along with women's 
growing consciousness of their own status 
and lives. For centuries this awareness has 
been buried under a thick crust of social- 
ization which considers violence against 
women in every form acceptable and nat- 
ural. In every culture women are consid- 
ered the "keepers of tradition," up- 
holding (male-defined) social norms and 
suppressing deviant behavior. At times 
women become their own wardens in pris- 
on, and perpetuate their own oppression. 

Perhaps the most devastating form of 
violence practiced against females is geni- 
tal mutilation. For the most part it is 
performed on young girls, the most vul- 
nerable, yet most valuable (as future 
mothers) population group. The practi- 
tioners of this brutal violation are women. 
In many parts of rural Africa a girl's value 
is still measured by the bride price paid to 
her father. Women are thus compelled by 
fear to perform these operations on their 
own daughters and granddaughters. 
Without such an operation a girl's 
chances to survive as an accepted member 
of the social group are nil; she becomes an 
outcast. She cannot get a husband and is 
therefore "worthless." Furthermore, 
once married, a good woman is expected 
to serve her husband (who often has many 
wives) and to make no demands, sexual or 
otherwise. Excision is a means to that end. 

Description of the Operation 

Genital mutilation, excision (clitoridec- 
tomy) and infibulation — have lifelong ef- 

Female Genital Mutilation in Africa: Countries, Regions, Populations 

Arabian Peninsula: Nagd, Kuwet, Muntafir, Bant, Tamin, 
Sammar, Mahra, Kara, Sahara, Baulahara, Boni Atije. 
Agarnem, Adwan 

Benin: Benin 

Botswana: Xohsa, Shangana-Thonga 

Chad: Shuwa 

Central African Empire: Recently outlawed 

Djibouti: Afar, Issa (entire population) 

Eastern Africa: Somali, Meru, Etnbu, Chuka, Kikuyu. 
Rangi, Nandi, Masai, Kamasia, Pokot, Elgeyo, Njemps, 
Dorobo, Sebei, Digo, Taita, Giriama, Kisii, Kamba, 
Swahili, Chaga, Pare, Gogo, Arusha. Tatoga, Turn, Bena. 
Hehe, iVatusi, Xhosa, Suba, li'asembeti, Nilo-Hamitic 
population groups 

Ethiopia: Atnhara, Fellasha, Kafitscho, Oromo (Galla), 
Danakit, Tigre, Ometo, Harnitic Kufa, Babea, Sidamo, 
Kushite population groups, Somali of the Harrar area 

Egypt: All population groups (Muslim and Copt) except for 
educated, urban upper and upper-middle class 

Gambia: All population groups except Jolloff 

Ghana: Hausa, Mossi, Yoruba, Kassina, Nankani, North 
Ghanaian groups 

Guinea: Twenty-four ethnic groups, including Foulah, Peul, 
Malinke (Mandingo), Soussou, Bambara, Kasonke, Serer, 
Wolof, Conakry area 

Kenya: Masai, Kuria, Kisii, Nandi, Kipsigis, Kamba, Kikuyu, 
Digo, Taita, Giriama, Dorobo, Samburu, Kamasia, Elgeyo, 
Pokot (Suk), Embu, Meru, Terik, Marakwet, Chagga, 
Kavirondo, Watende, Wakamba, Kitosh, Lumbwa, Somali 
population groups 

Ivory Coast: Malinke, Dioula, Guere, Guro. Baule, Mwan, 
area of Odienne 

Mali: Bambara, Dogon, Mossi, Malinke, Saracole, Songhoi 

Mauritania: All population groups 

Morocco: No confirmed information 

Niger: Over 80% of population groups 

Nigeria: Yoruba. Efik, Shuwa, Ibo. Hausa, most population 
groups except Itsekiri, inhabitants of Cross River State 

Senegal: Malinke (Mandingo/ Wangara), Toucouleur. Peul 
(Fulani), Soce (Casama) 

Sierra Leone: All population groups, except Creoles, includ- 
ing Temne, Mende, Loko, Limba, Kono, Kuranko, 
Susu, Fullah, Mandingo 

Somalia: All population groups practice infibulation, 
including Harrar, Afar, Danakil, Galla (Oromo) 

Southern Africa: Xhosa, Shangana-Thonga, Bechuanaland 

Sudan: Beja, Handandana, Beni Amir, Kababish, Baggara, 
Danagla, Shaygia, Gaaliyeen, Rubatab, Amarar, Fallata, 
Bushairiya, Rashyda, Dongola, Hassanie, Bisharin, 
Ababde, Mensa, Hababa, Bund Burun, Abn Haraz, 
Musalam lye, Awlad Kahil Hassanie, Singa, Sinnar, 
Gezir, Khartoum province, Omdurman area. Nubia, Red 
Sea Coast ports, Wad Medani, Humor of West Sudan 

Tanzania: Masai, Basembeti-Suba, Bakuria, Komaki, 
Chaga, Pare, Shambala, Gogo, Rangi, Turn, Bena, 
Hehe, Nilo-Hamitic population groups 

Togo: Not specified 

Uganda: Sebei 

Upper Volta: Mossi, 60-70% of female population 

Zaire: M'Bwake, Banda 

I. Ethiopia 2. Sudan 3. Somalia 4. Kenya 5. Egypt 6. Uganda 7. Tanzania 8. Djibouti 9. Central African Empire 10. Nigeria 

II. Ghana 12. Upper Volta 13. Ivory Coast 14. Mali 15. Guinea 16. Sierra Leone 17. Senegal 18. The Gambia 19. Mauritania 
20. Liberia 21. Togo 22. Benin 23. Cameroon 24. Congo 25. Gabon 26. Zaire 27. Chad 28. Niger 29. Libya 30. Algeria 31. South 
Yemen 32. Saudi Arabia 33. Angola 34. Zambia 35. Mozambique 36. Sahara 37. Morocco 38. Rwanda 39. Burundi 40. Malawi 


fects on personality and physical health. 
Since the practice of excision is carefully 
concealed from the outside world, a fac- 
tual explanation is required. 

Female circumcision is the most popu- 
lar, although medically incorrect term 
used for a variety of genital mutilations. 
These operations differ in purpose and in 
their effects from male circumcision, 
although both are frequently performed 
at puberty. The male operation, according 
to some traditional medical opinion, 
promotes cleanliness. In contrast, the 
female operation has been universally 
medically condemned.' 

Three kinds of operations are cited in 
medical literature: 

1. Sunna Circumcision: This involves 
removal of the prepuce and tip of the 
clitoris; it can only be done by a skilled 

2. Excision and Clitoridectomy: This is the 
operation most frequently done; it 
entails cutting away (excision) of the 
clitoris, labia minora and sometimes all 
external genitalia. Razor blades, knives 
or glass splinters are used. 

3. Infibulation or Pharaonic Circumcision: 
After the girl is excised her labia are 
scraped and then fastened together with 
thorns or catgut. Her legs are then tied 
up until the wound has healed. This 
operation is usually performed on girls 
between four and eight. The purpose is 
to close the girl's introitus so that she can 
be guaranteed "intact" when given to a 
man in marriage. Infibulation is prac- 
ticed mainly by Moslems, who consider 
virginity all-important and demand 
visible proof of a "closed" bride. 

For all practical purposes, however, one 
can speak of only two operations— exci- 
sion and infibulation. The crude tools 
used by the operators, mainly old women, 
preclude the removal of a tiny skinfold 
(sunna circumcision). 

Excision/clitoridectomy is practiced in 
a broad area stretching from Egypt, Ethi- 
opia, the Red Sea Coast, Kenya and Tan- 
zania on the East Coast, to Senegal and 
Mauritania on the West Coast, and in- 
cluding all the countries in between. Infib- 
ulation is practiced in the Moslem areas of 
Africa. In Somalia all girls without ex- 
ception are infibulated. In Sudan (except 
the South), Eritrea (part of Ethiopia), 
Northern Kenya and Mali, most girls are 
infibulated. In Upper Volta, infibulation 
is not practiced; however, the result of 
excision is often the same — the wound 
created by excision sometimes adheres 
and closes the introitus. I saw a woman in 
labor brought to the maternity hospital in 
Ouagadougou in Upper Volta unable to 
give birth. 

(continued on page 30) 

Pleasure Outing 

ley and Tom sitting in the sand, making 
mountains and tunnels with their hands. 
The lady and the little girl over on the 
other blanket were eating peaches and the 
little girl had peach juice running down 
her chin and onto her chest. The lady 
wiped the little girl's chin and chest with a 
napkin. The little girl had curly dark hair 
and she was wearing a two-piece bathing 
suit with red and yellow and green flow- 
ers. The lady was wearing a black bathing 
suit. The little girl was skinny and the lady 
was the fattest person Katie ever saw, like 
a big enormous stuffed pillow. She won- 
dered if the little girl would grow up to be 
that fat. 

Her own mother wasn't fat at all. She 
looked really pretty, Katie thought, in her 
two-piece yellow bathing suit. She had the 
prettiest mother of all her friends. She 
wasn't fat and her hair was long and red- 
dish brown and her skin was the whitest 
skin could be, like milk, like snow, like a 
cloud. Tom had white skin like that but 
Katie and Bradley were dark like her fath- 
er. Katie wished her skin was white and 
that she had a two-piece bathing suit. She 
could see her mother's stomach all wet 
with sweat and she knew her mother was 
waiting for her father to say, Let's go in 
the water. 

Finally he said it. He said, "It's time for 
a swim." Katie's mother got up and Katie 
jumped up and they walked across the 
grass to the sand. Bradley and Tom saw 
them coming and raced over and said, 
"We're going in now, Daddy? We're go- 
ing in now?" 

Her father didn't answer them. He just 
walked straight down to the water and 
walked in a little way and then dove 
under. For a minute they couldn't see 
him. Then they saw him come up way out 
on the lake near the rope. 

Bradley and Tom were flopping on 
their bellies and splashing and Katie's 
mother told them not to be wild in the 
water and not to splash. Katie and her 
mother were standing in the shallow 
water. Her mother was in up to her ankles 

and Katie was in up to' her knees. She 
couldn't go in any more because the water 
was so cold. She felt like she was standing 
in a bucket of ice. Every couple of min- 
utes she walked in a little more and let the 
icy water creep up her body. Her mother 
wasn't going in any more. She was stand- 
ing and hugging herself with her arms, 
watching the boys to be sure they didn't 
drown themselves, smiling at the way they 
were squealing and flopping on their bel- 
lies. Then Bradley started kicking up 
water with his feet and he splashed some 
on Katie's stomach. She yelled, "Mom, 
Bradley's splashing me," and her mother 
told Bradley to stop kicking the water. 

Katie saw her father swimming toward 
them from the rope. When he got to 
where they were, he pushed back his hair 
which was all wet and blew his nose into 
his fingers and said to her mother, "Are 
you planning to stand there all day?" 

Her mother said, "It's so cold, Brad." 
Her father said, "Sure it's cold if you just 
stand there. Once you get in you get used 
to it." Then quick before anyone saw 
what he was doing, he scooped up some 
water and splashed it on her mother. Her 
mother yelled, "Oh no," and sounded so 
funny that Katie and the boys laughed. 
Then her father said, "C'mon, you got to 
get wet" and he splashed her again and 
she said, "Oh Brad, don't." Then her 
father said she better come on in or he was 
going to dunk her good. So she walked 
deeper into the water, hugging herself and 
saying "Brrr." When she got in up to her 
stomach she ducked down fast so that she 
was wet all over. Then she swam out a 
little and swam back again. "Oh it's freez- 
ing," she said, "but you get used to it." 
Her father said, "That's what I told 
you." Then he said to Katie, "C'mon, 
you too, get yourself wet." 

Katie didn't want to be splashed so she 
made herself duck down fast in the water 
up to her neck. It was so cold it took her 
breath away, but it felt good too, she 
thought, freezing and tingling all over her 

(continued on page 31) 



It is estimated that more than 30 million 
women are affected in Africa. The map il- 
lustrates the areas for which I have de- 
finite documentation of genital mutilation 
from medical literature, hospitals, doc- 
tors' personal testimony and ethnographic 
reports. Edna Adan Ismail, the first 
registered midwife in charge of midwife 
training in Somalia, described the terrible 
ordeal of infibulation at the Fifth Obstet- 
rical and Gynaecological Congress in the 
Sudan in February 1977. A similar ac- 
count is given by Jacques Lantier 
(translated from French): 2 

In Somalia the initiation ritual takes place in 
the home among the women relatives, neigh- 
bors and friends. The father stays outside the 
door as a symbolic guard. The mother 
officiates, or her place is taken by an older 
woman. At each ceremony only one little girl is 
mutilated, but all girls without exception must 
undergo this operation before they are 

The ritual itself is not accompanied by 
religious ceremony or medicinal prepara- 
tions — its performance is similar to the castrat- 
ing of an animal. 

The child is made to sit on a stool that is not 
even wiped and several women hold her down 
firmly. After separating her outer and inner 
lips (labia majora and labia minora) with her 
fingers, the old woman attaches them with 
large thorns onto the flesh of each thigh. With 
her kitchen knife the woman then pierces and 
slices open the hood of the clitoris and begins 
to cut it out. While another woman wipes off 
the blood with a rag, the mother (or operator) 

digs with her fingernail a hole the length of the 
clitoris to detach and pull out that organ. The 
little girl screams in extreme pain, but no one 
pays the slightest attention. 

The woman finishes this job by pulling out 
the clitoris entirely; she then cuts it to the bone 
with the kitchen knife. Her helpers again wipe 
off the spurting blood with a rag. The mother 
then lifts up the skin that is left with her thumb 
and index finger to remove the remaining flesh. 
She then digs a deep hole with her hand amidst 
the gushing blood. The neighbor women are 
invited to take part in the operation; they 
plunge their fingers into the bloody hole to 
verify that every remnant of the clitoris is 

This operation is not always well managed as 
the little girl struggles. Often, by the clumsy use 
of the knife or a poorly executed cut, the 
bladder is pierced or the rectum is cut open. If 
the little girl faints the woman blows pili-pili 
(spice powder) into her nostrils to reanimate 

But this is not the end of the torture. The 
most important phase of the ritual begins only 
now. After a short moment the woman takes 
the knife again and cuts off the inner lips (labia 
minora). The helper again wipes the blood with 
her rag. Then the woman with a swift motion 
begins to scrape off the skin from the inside of 
the large lips. 

The operator conscientiously scrapes the 
flesh of the screaming child without the 
slightest concern for the extreme pain she 
inflicts. When the wound is large enough she 
adds some lengthwise cuts and several more 
incisions. The neighbor women carefully watch 
her "work" and when needed encourage her 

The girl begins to howl once more. Some- 
times in a spasm at this stage, she bites off her 
tongue. The other women carefully watch the 
child to prevent such an accident. When her 

tongue flops out they throw spice powder on it 
which provokes an instant pulling back and the 
little girl opens her mouth wide to scream even 

With the abrasion of the skin completed ac- 
cording to the rules the operator closes the 
bleeding large lips and fixes them one against 
the other with long acacia thorns. 

At this stage of the operation the child is 
spent and exhausted and generally stops crying 
but usually has convulsions. One then forces 
down her throat a concoction of plants which 
has rapid results. 

The operator's chief concern is to achieve as 
narrow an opening as possible, just big enough 
to allow the urine and menstrual flow to pass. 
Her honor depends on making it as small as 
possible because among the Somalis the smaller 
this artificial passage is, the higher the value of 
the woman. 

Once this operation is finished the woman 
washes the sex area of the girl and wipes her 
with a rag. Then the girl is freed (from having 
been held down) and is ordered to get up. The 
neighbors then help to immobilize her thighs 
with ropes of goat skin. A solid bandage is then 
applied from the knees to the waist of the girl 
and is left in place for about two weeks. The 
girl must remain immobile, stretched on a mat, 
for the entire time while all the excrement 
evidently remains with her in the bandage. 

After that time the girl is released and the 
bandage is cleaned. Her sex organs assume a 
monstrous shape which is preserved until her 
marriage. Contrary to what one would assume 
death is not a very frequent result of this 
operation. One does, of course, deplore the 
various complications which frequently leave 
the girls crippled and disabled for the rest of 
their lives. 

"I did not know what was happening," 
a Somalian named Fatuma, who now lives 

ifl >-!^fe 




in England, told me last year. "I was only 
six years old, but I remember every detail. 
I was woken up early one morning, a 
group of women from the neighborhood 
had come to wake me up. They pulled my 
legs apart and held them open. A big old 
woman sat down facing me. She took out 
a knife, grabbed hold of my clitoris and 
started cutting me. I tried to free myself 
and screamed and screamed. The last 
thing I remember was blood all over 
spurting from between my legs. Then I 
passed out." 

Dr. Verzin summarizes the effects on 
health in his article published in 1975: 3 

Primary fatalities due to hemorrhage (un- 
controlled bleeding) and shock, blood 
poisoning and other infections including 
tetanus due to dirt; retention of urine and 
later menstrual blood; trauma (injury) to 
adjacent tissues, the rectum and bladder. 
Long range results are: a variety of 
malformations including cysts, keloid 
formation (hardening of scars), coital dif- 
ficulties, lack of orgasm, urinary distur- 
bances, chronic pelvic sepsis (infections) 
and infertility. Obstetric complications 
are extreme in case of infibulation as 
delivery is impossible without episiotomy 
(cutting open the vulva); frequently two 
or more cuts are needed. Scar tissue fre- 
quently complicates and obstructs first 
deliveries especially. 

It should be remembered that studies by 
doctors are based on patients who come to 
hospitals. Only a tiny minority in most 
African countries are within reach of a 
hospital. No one knows how many young 
girls bleed to death as a result of the oper- 
ations, or die from shock, or perish htfer 
from infections." 

The psychological effects of the ex- 
treme pain of the operations are unreport- 
ed. The prolonged suffering, both phys- 
ical and psychological, including pain 
from subsequent sexual intercourse, has 
never been investigated. The difficulties in 
giving birth must be further emphasized. 
Some women require Caesarian sections. 
Others are unable to conceive. After 
birth, where infibulation is practiced, a 
woman is often sewn up again; wives ask 
for these "repairs" themselves; however 
the decision rests with the husband as it 
makes intercourse more pleasurable for 
him. When they have another child, the 
whole process of cutting and sewing starts 

A midwife from Western Kenya sent me 
the following letter in the summer of 1975. 
Female circumcision (in Kenya mostly ex- 
cision is practiced) is supported by Presi- 
dent Kenyatta as an important custom of 

(continued on page 32) 

Pleasure Outing 

body. "It feels real good when you get 
used to it," she said. 

Then her mother said she was going to 
swim to warm up. She said Katie and the 
boys were to stay right where they were 
and Katie was to keep an eye on the boys. 
She swam out to the rope and Katie's 
father swam out after her. 

When they got back her father said to 
Katie and the boys, "You better watch 
out, the killer shark's gonna get you." He 
went under the water and started swim- 
ming toward them. They couldn't see 
where he was and they screamed and ran. 
Then he came up for air and stood up and 
pushed the hair out of his eyes and Katie 
saw the water sparkling in tiny drops all 
over his arms and chest. He said, "I'm a 
hungry shark and I see three little fishes 
and I'm gonna eat them right up." Then 
he went under the water again and they 
couldn't see where he was and they 
screamed and ran. Katie knew it was her 
father, it wasn't really a shark under the 
water, but she felt scared. She felt like 
laughing too, though. Her mother was 
watching them and smiling. Then her 
father caught Tom's legs under the water 
and Tom screamed and laughed and her 
father came up with Tom sitting on his 
shoulders. Then her father carried Tom 
out to the deep water and went around 
with him on his shoulders. Katie and 
Bradley were jumping up and down and 
laughing, watching Tom get his ride. 
When her father came back and put Tom 
down, Bradley said, "Me next, me next." 
Her father looked at him and said to her 
mother, "Look at that one. His lips are 
blue." Katie saw that was true. Bradley's 
lips were blue and his teeth were chatter- 
ing. Her teeth were chattering too. Then 
her mother said, "I think they've had 
enough" and her father said, "Out of the 
water now." Bradley whined, "I want a 
ride too," and her father gave him a 

They went out of the water, hugging 
themselves and shivering. The sand stuck 
to their feet and made their feet gritty. 

When they got to the blanket, Bradley 
picked up a towel but Katie's father told 
him to put it down and not waste a towel. 
The sun would warm them up, he said. 
Her father and mother lay down on the 
blanket and Tom and Bradley sat hunched 
up on the grass. Katie lay down on the 
grass. She felt her skin crinkle under the 
hot sun and soon she was warm. 

Then Bradley got up and went over to 
the blanket. He stepped on a corner of the 
blanket and Katie's father smacked his leg 
and said to keep his sandy feet off it. 
Bradley asked when they could go back in 
the water and her father said they were 
going to stay out for one half hour until 
they got warmed up. Then Bradley asked 
when they were going to eat and her father 
said it wasn't time to eat yet, it was time to 
get a suntan. 

Then her mother took a bottle of baby 
oil out of the shopping bag and she spilled 
a little into her hand and rubbed it on her 
arm. Then her father said to give the baby 
oil to him and she did and he told her to 
just lie down and he would rub it in for 
her. So she lay down on her back and 
Katie's father spilled a little baby oil in his 
hand and he rubbed her mother's other 
arm with it. Then he spilled a little more 
oil in his hand and he rubbed it on her 
mother's stomach. He said something to 
her, low so Katie couldn't hear, and they 
both laughed. Katie saw her mother's 
back bump up and down. Then he rubbed 
baby oil on her mother's legs, from her 
toes all the way up. 

Katie asked, "Could I have some baby 
oil?" She loved the sweet smell. 

"What do you need baby oil for?" her 
father asked. He wasn't looking at Katie. 
He was looking at her mother's legs while 
he was rubbing them. "You're brown as a 
nut," he said. "You don't need no baby 
oil. Your mom needs it so her sensitive 
white skin won't burn." Then he said 
something low to Katie's mother again 
and made her laugh. 

When he finished rubbing in the baby 

(continued on page 33) 


the Kikuyu— the largest and politically 
most active group, to which Kenyatta 
himself belongs. Her name thus cannot be 

Through my experience as a midwife 
working under the Ministry of Health I 
have seen some circumcised mothers 
recently, especially primagravida 
[women having children for the first 
time] having complications, such as a 
delay in the second stage of labor 
because of the scar formed; the 
perineum cannot be stretched to give 
room for the baby's head to be born. In 
this case an episiotomy [cutting open the 
vulva] has to be performed each time the 
woman gives birth; if not there is a 
serious tear to both the perineum and the 
muscles and this involves also the 
rectum. Sometimes these women end up 
with V.V.F. (Vaginal Vesicle Fistula] 
which is very hard to repair if there is no 
experienced doctor. Also babies born of 
these women, if premature, normally die 
or have brain damage. Some babies are 
born dead because of delay in second 
stage, if born at home without 
supervision of a qualified midwife. 
Hemorrhage is profuse in case of a tear 
on the scar, and the scar always forms 
haemotoma when bruised and it is very 

Yet women themselves most vehemently 
oppose change. Why should this be so? 

Reasons for the Operation 

Traditions of violence against women 
have hardly changed for centuries. Last 
year I spent six weeks in seven African 
countries," investigating the present sit- 
uation of genital mutilation. My findings, 
backed by four years of research, are re- 
lated here. 

Most people are convinced of the 
necessity of the operation because it is a 
custom decreed by the ancestors. Terrible 
harm befalls those who defy tradition. 
Men refuse to marry girls who have not 
been operated on and in most African 
cultures marriage is still the only purpose 
in life for a female. In Black Africa it is 
widely believed that excision is necessary 
to "preserve the family," to prevent 
women from becoming "wild," with no 
control over their sexuality. A direct cor- 
relation has been made between genital 
mutilation and polygamy, which is still 
practiced in much of Africa. (Only in the 
Ivory Coast is polygamy outlawed.) An 
African schoolteacher wrote that excision 
was necessary on account of polygamy: 
"How can a man satisfy all his wives? He 
would ruin his health." "Polygamy," the 
teacher stated, "is one of our important 

African traditions that we must 
preserve." 5 

Genital mutilation is practiced by mem- 
bers of all religions in Africa, including 
Christians (both Catholic and Protestant), 
Moslems, Animists, Copts, Ethiopian 
Christians and even the Fellasha, an an- 
cient Jewish sect living in the highlands of 
Ethiopia. Female circumcision was known 
in ancient Egypt, was reported by the 
Romans, and has existed in different parts 
of Africa and Arabia for thousands of 
years. In the sixteenth century Jesuits who 
came to convert the Abyssinians (Ethiopi- 
ans) discovered and forbade the practice. 
But since no man would marry a girl who 
was not excised, conversions stopped. The 
Pope then sent a medical mission which 
promptly found that the operation was 
"necessary for medical reasons." Since 
then all Catholic missions permit the 
operations on the daughters of their con- 

Infibulation is mostly practiced by Mos- 

lems. Although Dr. A. Abu el Futuh 
Shandall and others — based on Moslem 
religious texts — state that circumcision of 
females is not a command but an "embel- 
lishment" and that infibulation is against 
the Moslem admonishment not to inflict 
pain, in West Africa the Marabouts (Mos- 
lem holy men) frequently claim that fe- 
male circumcision is a religious com- 
mand. 6 In Egypt and the Sudan, it is 
claimed that the operation contributes to 
the beauty of the woman — that the exteri- 
or genitalia are ugly and must be removed. 
It must be remembered that these cus- 
toms are kept secret everywhere. I have 
found that African women in the modern 
sector, concerned about the health dam- 
age done by circumcision, do not know 
how widespread these practices are. Fre- 
quently they are unaware that these prac- 
tices continue in other parts of Africa or 
believe that circumcision is a universal 
practice and that nothing can be done. 

(continued on page 34) 


Pleasure Outing 

oil, he lay down on the blanket. He put his 
hand so it was lying flat on her mother's 
stomach. "Sun sure feels good," he said. 
Her mother said, "Mmm." 

Katie had nothing to do. 

The lady and the little girl on the next 
blanket came back up from the water. The 
lady was dripping wet and her hair was 
black and wet and flat against her head. 
The little girl was wet and shivering and 
the lady wrapped her up in a big blue tow- 
el and rubbed her all over. Then the lady 
took another towel and rubbed her own 
arms and chest. Her chest was enormous 
and all pink with sunburn. Katie could not 
stop staring at it. Then the lady looked up 
at Katie and Katie looked away. 

Bradley and Tom came up from the 
sand. Their chests and arms and legs were 
covered with sand. It made Katie itch to 
look at them. 

Bradley stood by her mother and asked 
if it was a half hour yet. Her mother 
opened her eyes and sat up and said, "My 
god, look at you two. What were you 

"We were getting buried in the sand," 
Bradley said. Katie could see there was 
sand in his ears and in his hair. Then he 
said, "Is it a half hour yet, Mom? Can we 
go in the water?" 

Her mother looked at her father who 
was still lying down. "What are you look- 
ing at me for?" he asked. "They didn't 
ask me, they asked you." 

Her mother said, "Well you were the 
one . . . Well, I'm asking you." 

Then without looking at Bradley or 
Tom, just looking at the sky, her father 
said, "Yeah, go in." Bradley and Tom 
tore off in a second and her father said to 
their backs, "Yeah, go ahead in. Go in 
.where it's good and deep, why don't you. 
Go out and play in the middle of the lake 
and drown." Bradley and Tom didn't 
hear him say that because they were al- 
ready down at the water. 

Her mother was sitting up on the blan- 
ket, squinting down at the water, watch- 
ing Bradley and Tom. Her father turned 
over on his stomach and put his head on 
his arms. 

"I don't want to go back in that freez- 
ing water," Katie said. "I like it right here 
in the sun." Her father didn't say any- 
thing. She lay down on her stomach too. 
The sun was hot on her back and the grass 
tickled her stomach and her nose. Soon 
the sounds of the people's voices, the 
grownups talking and the children yelling 
down at the lake, seemed to come from 
far away. It was as if she were dead on the 
grass and could still hear all around her 
the voices of the people who were alive. 
Then she found she was telling herself the 
story of the princess— it was her only with 
long golden hair and a white dress down 
to the ground— and the stern, cruel king. 
She did not remember when she first start- 
ed thinking the story. She had an idea that 
it first came to her in a dream. She told it 
to herself every night in her bed, the dark- 
ness all around her. She did not under- 
stand why it made her so ashamed. The 
greatest mystery was the feeling it gave her 
—like she had to pee so badly that she had 
to clutch herself between the legs— when 
she got to the part about the beatings. She 
did not understand it because the feeling 
was not at all the feeling she had when her 
father came towering at her, his hand 
coming down so fast and so hard that she 
could not look; did not know where or 
how many times she would be hit; crum- 
pled, so sick with fear that she wanted to 
die. That feeling between her legs did not 
come then, so why did it come in the 
story? She didn't know, but she couldn't 
resist telling herself the beating part over 
and over, making the beatings harder each 
time. She was panting softly into the grass 
when her mother said, "Let's go for a 
swim now, Katie, then we'll have lunch." 
Her mother's voice came as a surprise 
to her. She'd forgotten where she was. 
She stumbled to her feet and followed her 
mother down the grassy slope. She could 
see her father, ahead of them, wading out 
into the freezing water. 

— Anita Page 



with the major illnesses of the land. Infib- 
ulation is not one of them." 


- WSMm 







The Effects of Modernization 

Modernization — the introduction of 
new tools, the monetary economy and 
"development" — has not improved wom- 
en's lives. Development projects have 
ignored the personal and health needs of 
women, while increasing the economic 
gap between men and women. Thus wom- 
en have become ever more dependent on 
men. In Moslem Africa, outside the fami- 
ly, without the "protection" of the male, 
a woman is literally lost. She owns noth- 
ing, she is prey to assault by any man, she 
has no home if she is rejected by her fami- 
ly. Divorce represents loss of children and 
economic ruin. 

At the United Nations Conference on 
Human Settlements in Vancouver, Cana- 
da, in 1976, A.J. Abdille, the leader of the 
Somali delegation, gave a rousing speech 
about the accomplishments of the Somali 
revolutionary government. He described 
the 'actions undertaken to modernize the 
country and society through general edu- 
cation and modern technology. Abdille 
also related how the government had 
successfully moved to abolish many 

damaging traditional customs, such as 
tribal feuds and blood revenge. "We have 
started literacy training of all women," he 
told me, "My wife also has learned to 
read," he said. When I asked about infib- 
ulation, he said: "But everybody does 
that — it is an old custom, it has always 
been done." Abdille related that he had 
his own daughters infibulated in new 
hospitals: "Of course, everyone else in the 
government does it too." 

When Ambassador Abdirazak Haj i 
Hussein of Somalia appeared on the 
McNeill-Lehrer Report in February, he 
stressed Somalia's need for assistance 
from the United States, for arms, as well 
as aid for his people, who had recently 
suffered a devastating drought. "Women 
have equal rights in Somalia," he assured 
me, but confirmed that infibulation oper- 
ations are still performed in government 

The hospitals are built with European 
aid (Italy gave $64 million in development 
funds between 1969 and 1976, Germany 
$33 million, and Sweden $8 million) and 
the health services are organized with 
technical assistance from abroad. Dr. 
Kevin M. Cahill, a New York specialist in 
tropical medicine, was one of the Western 
health advisors to the Somali Govern- 
ment; he worked with A.J. Abdille. When 
asked what he knew about infibulation 
and the use of hospitals to perform the 
operation, he told me, "This is of no 
interest to me — my own research deals 

Some Signs of Change 

Contrary to what is claimed by interna- 
tional agencies, including church groups 
active in Africa as well as the World 
Health Organization, UNICEF (the Year 
of the Child is 1979) and U.S. Agency for 
International Development, women in 
Africa are beginning to demand change. 

In Nigeria an article condemning cir- 
cumcision was recently published in a 
widely circulated magazine by Esther 
Ogunmodede, 8 who is active in a large, 
influential women's organization. "How 
much longer will we allow our girls to be 
brutalized in this barbaric way?" she asks 
in the headline of the article. The Nation, 
the leading paper of Kenya, ran an article 
giving ten health facts of circumcision and 
referring to my work and research pub- 
lished in WIN News. 9 

The Sudan is the only country in Africa 
today where genital mutilation is acknowl- 
edged and openly discussed as a serious 
health hazard. At the Fifth Congress of 
Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society, 
the Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Fatima 
Abdul Mahmoud, who is herself a 
gynecologist and a member of the Ob- 
Gyn Society, stressed the importance of 
the discussion of female circumcision and 
emphasized that the Sudanese government 
is looking for guidance in its commitment 
to permanently doing away with these 
debilitating customs. Kateera Yassin, the 
Secretary of the Sudanese Women's 
Union, a powerful political women's 
organization, stated that doctors have 
discussed this situation for more than 30 
years. She accused them of doing nothing 
and added that some of them profit from 
doing these operations: "Fortunes are 
being made by M.D.s and also by 

Throughout the world, female sexual as- 
sault and torture, both sanctioned and un- 
sanctioned, continues. Our oppression 
takes many forms. The time has come for 
action. African women, appealing for a 
major WHO study that has never been 
-conducted, said: "While it [is] the duty of 
African women to further . . . African 
culture by supporting those rich and 
varied qualities which were of value to 
Africa and the world, they should join in 
condemning these customs which [are] 
deleterious to health and indeed 
dangerous . . ." 10 

— Fran P. Hosken 

©1978 Fran P. Hosken 


1. This point is made especially by Dr. J. A. Verzin in 
"Sequelae of Female Circumcision," Tropical 
Doctor (Oct. 1975). See also Dr. A. Abu el Futuh 
Shandall, "Circumcision and Infibulation of 
Females," Sudan Medical Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4 

2. Jacques Lantier, La Cite magique el magie en 
Afrique Noire (Paris: Librarie A. Fayard, 1972) 
pp. 277-279. Similar descriptions are also given by: 
Annie de Villeneuve, "Etude sur une coutume 
somalie: les femmes cousues," Journal de la 
Societe des Africanisles, ,Vol. ,V1 pp. 15-32, 
(1973), and Guy Pieters, "Gynaecology in the 
Country of the Sewn Women," Acta Chirurgica 
Belgica, No. 3 (May 1972) pp. 173-193 and WIN 
News, Vol. 2, No. 3, p. 19, Summer 1976. 

3. Dr. J. A. Verzin, op. cit. 

See also Dr. R. Cook, "Damage to Physical Health 
from Pharonic Circumcision (Infibulation) of 
Females: A Review of Medical Literature "(World 
Health Organization). 

4. Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, 
Upper Volta and Senegal. In 1973 I visited 15 
countries (sub-Saharan) and 25 cities to research 
modernization and urbanization. Prior to that I 
visited all of Northern Africa. 

5. Famille el Developpement. B.P. 11.007, CD. 
Annexe, Dakar, Senegal, 2nd issue (Spring 1975) 
article on excision (in French). 

6. Shandall, pp. 183-184. 

7. Letters demanding that aid to Somalia be with- 
held and human rights hearings (of Women's 
rights) be held should be sent to Patricia Derian, 
Co-ordinator of President Carter's Human Rights 
Committee and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, 
Dept. of State, Washington, D.C. 20520. Letters 

to Congresspersons should request that the mes- 
sage be forwarded to the pertinent committee 
chairpersons (especially to Congressman Donald 
Fraser, re Human Rights Hearings). 

8. Esther Ogunmodede, "Circumcision: How Much 
Longer Will We Allow Our Girls to Be Brutalized 
in This Barbaric Way?", The Drum (Nov. 1977). 
See also WIN News No. 3-4 (Fall 1977) pp 

9. Fran P. Hosken, WIN News. (For additional in- 
formation on my research write WIN News, 187 
Grand St., Lexington, MA. 02173 USA. Tel. 617- 

10. United Nations Document ST/TAO/HR/9, para- 
graphs 60, 61 and 62; published in WIN News 1-4 
(Summer 1975), pp. 41-42. 


(arranged in order of relevance) 

Reprints of WIN News: "Women and Health," "Fe- 
male Circumcision." All columns published in WIN 
News starting with issue 1-3, Summer 1975. Ongo- 
ing investigation of genital mutilation of women in 
Africa, including first-hand reports, medical and 
ethnographic sources. 

"Genital Mutilation of Women in Africa" by Fran P. 
Hosken, Munger Africana Library Notes, 'Issue 36, 
Oct. 1976. Order from Munger Africana Library, 
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena Cal 

Medical Literature 

"Sequelae of Female Circumcision" by J. A. Verzin, 
Tropical Doctor, Oct. 1975. Reprint available from 
the Royal Society of Medicine, Chandos House, 2 

DEAR SM^I know ex- 
actly what SYLVIA is 
going through. She's the 
wife who's trying to find a 
chastity belt so she can put 
her husband's suspicions to 

I've been married for 14 
years to a wonderful man 
whose only fault was his 
unreasonable jealousy. He 
loved me dearly, and al- 
though I've always been a 
true and faithful wife, he 
never trusted me out of his 

The daily accusations, de- 
nials and fighting were 
destroying our marriage, 
so together we designed 
something on the order of a 
chastity belt. 

It's a tight-fitting rubber 
panty girdle over which I 
wear an old-fashioned type 
corset which laces up the 
back. My husband ties me 
into it every morning, tying 
the lace in a hard knot at 
the top where I can't reach 
It, let it alone undo it. Over 
that I wear a snug-fitting 
leather belt which also fas- 
tens in the back with a 
small padlock like those 
used on suitcases. My hus 
band carries the only key. 

Every day he comes 
home at noon to help me in 
the bathroom. 

This may sound like a hu- 
miliating solution, and I'm 
certainly not advocating it 
for all wives, but it saved 
our marriage. — HAPPY 

DEAR HAPPY: If you're 
happy in this kind of wed- 
lock, more power to you. 
•k *■■& 

DEAR ^£^ We at the 
Anvil Arms do custom 
work in metal. We make 
swords and military items 
for museums and personal 
collections. Having made. 

armor for the National 
Park Service for living his- 
tory programs, the chastity 
belt should be no problem 
at all. 

Of course, It would re- 
quire some redesigning, 
since the chastity belt was 
notoriously uncomfortable 
for the wearer. We would 
also need the exact meas- 
urements to provide a 
proper fit. 

May I add, Abby, after a 
hard day in the shop, I look 
forward to your column, as 
it adds a little fun and a 
great deal of insight into 
human problems. 

DEAR @SJ^&»A friend of 
mine who makes gold jew- 
elry told me he recently 
made a 14-Karat gold chas- '. 
tity belt for the wife of a 
rich Arab in Beverly Hills. 
A month later this same 
Arab phoned and ordered 
NINE more. — J.R. 


DEAR i^^m I own a 
specialty sheet metal fabri- 
cation shop and can make a 
fine chastity belt with 
stainless steel that will not 
rust, tarnish or chip. 

Three styles are availa- 
ble: snuggy, regular and bi- 
kini. Locking devices can be 
lock, padlock or combina- 
tion. Item can be rao- 
nogrammed at no addi- 
tional cost. 

It can be made on a time 

and material basis, and the 

only requirement Is that 

the lady corrie for fittings. 



DEAR-tiE^» Tell the 
woman who wants a chas- 
tity belt that she can buy 
one in New York at a place 
called "The Pleasure 
Chest." — MURPH 

A laughing man's voice 


around and ropes me. 

Walking down the street, 

netted by calls, 

walking thru the words 

thrown on my path, 

I stumble. I walk 

among the knife-sharp voices 

cutting their mark. 

In one man's eye a hand 

severed at the wrist. 

His other eye winks shut. 

One man's head incises 


like the hieroglyphic slits 

of urinal drawings. 

Another swings a briefcase 

stuffed with women's legs 

cut off. 

And a man 

lifts up 

a woman's tongue 

between his thumb and finger. 

From hand to hand 

they pass a woman's breast, 


and toss it down into the gutter. 

—Rachel Blau DuPIessis 


Queen Anne St., London W. 1M OBR, England. 
Most medical libraries have this publication. A 
complete bibliography is given in this article. 

"Circumcision and Infibulation of Females: A Gen- 
eral Consideration of the problem and a Clinical 
Study of the Complications in Sudanese Women" 
by A. Abu-EI-Futuh Shandall, Sudan Medical Jour- 
nal, 1967. The most thorough clinical study of over 
4000 women from first-hand observations in the 

"Weibliche Zirkumzision und Infibulation in Athio- 
pien" (A Survey of Female Crcumcision and In- 
fibulation in Ethiopia) by Alfons Huber, Ada 
Tropica, Basel, 1966. pp. 87-91. Describes specific 
operations by specific tribes. With bibliography. 

"Gynaecology at the Country of the Sewn Women" 
by G. Pieterss, Acta Chirurgica Belgica, No. 3, May 
1972 (in French). A summary of the practice of in- 
fibulation in Africa (with map). 

"Sociocultural Practices Relating to Obstetrics and 
Gynaecology in a Community of West Africa" by 
Lawrence D. Longo, American Journal of Obstet- 
rics and Gynaecology, June 15, 1964. Descriptions 
of practices relating to fertility, birth and infant care 
of the Yoruba. With bibliography. 

"Female Circumcision and Fertility in Africa" by 
Fran P. Hosken, Women and Health — Issues in 
Women's Health Care, Vol. 1, No. 6, Nov/Dec 
1976. pp. 3-11. Order from Biological Sciences Pro- 
gram, State University of New York, College at Old 
Westbury, New York 11568. 

"Female Circumcision In Africa" by Fran P. Hosken, 
Victimology, an International Journal, Vol. II, No. 
3/4, 1977/78. Double issue on spouse abuse. Cop- 
ies: Victimology, The American University, 3409 
Wisconsin Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20015. 

"Clitoridectomy: Female Circumcision in Egypt" by 
Henny Harald Hansen, Folk, Vol. 14-15, 1972/73. 
Available from Folk Ethnografisk Samling, Nation- 
al Museum, Ny Vester Gade 10, Copenhagen, Den- 

"Female Genital Mutilation, Fertility Control, Wom- 
en's Roles and the Patrilineage in Modern Sudan: A 
Functional Analysis" by Rose Oldfield Hayes, 
American Ethnologist, Vol. 2, No. 4, Nov. 1975. 
And academic sociological paper. Good bibliog- 

"Etude sur une coutume somalie: les femmes 
cousues" by Annie de Villeneuve, Journal de la so- 
cie'te' des Africanistes, Tome VI, pp. 15-32, Paris 
1937 (in French). An excellent personal account re- 
lating the first-hand experience and observations of 
the author, including the description of an infibula- 
tion operation that the author witnessed. 

"L'excision: base de la stability familiale oil rite 
cruel?" (Excision: Basis of Family Stability or Cruel 
Rite?) by Jean G. Taoko, Famille et Developpe- 
ment, Dakar, Senegal, No 2, Spring 1975 (in 
French). A carefully researched article on clitoridec- 
tomy as practiced now, mainly in western Africa. 

La Cite" Magique et Magie en Afrique Noire by 
Jacques Lantier, Librarie Fayard, 1972 (in French). 
Order from Fayard Press, 75 rue des Saintes Peres, 
75278 Paris, CEDEX, France. A close examination 
of the realities of African tribal life and customs 
including fertility rites, initiation, sexuality, circum- 




Related to the idea of illusion in marriage 
is the peignoir. The peignoir is made of lace, 
steel wool, and pink nylon. The choice of 
materials illustrates a cruel-gentle ambiguity. 
Pink nylon is a very soft, pretty material. 
Steel wool is not. It scratches you. It can cut 
you. There is cruelty in the peignoir in the 
fact that the steel wool is very deceptive. It 
was sewed to look like fur. One doesn't 
notice the danger until one gets close. There 
is a fantasy aspect in the fur-looking sleeves 
and collar that is counter-balanced by the 
reality of the pink nylon. The peignoir is also 
humorous. It resembles some sort of robot- 
like monster. There is a whole mystique of 
illusion and pretense built up around peig- 
noirs. Women in the movies are always 
changing into them. They are the "something 
more comfortable" used for seduction. Thus, 
all women have come to associate beautiful 
lacy underwear with Hollywood romance and 
vicarious story-book sex. I felt that a steel 
wool and nylon peignoir combine the reality 
of marriage with the romance of marriage. 


One of the most frightening articles of 
clothing that I can imagine is the girdle. The 
whole concept of pretense is embodied in the 
idea of a girdle. Its function is to mold one 
into society's ideal. It is completely dishonest. 
It merely creates a facade. It is an uncom- 
fortable torture. It doesn 't let a woman 
breathe. It sticks to her like an octopus. It 
doesn 't let air in or out. This is why I used 
rubber bath mats with suction cups all over 
them to make my girdle. The deceptive and 
humorous aspect of a girdle is further height- 
ened by little bits of lace and ribbon which 
are always attached to them. I used velvet 
and nylon ribbon with the rubber to intensify 
the ambiguity. Being young and thin is con- 
sidered the ideal. A girl is told that she will 
no longer be thin when she reaches middle- 
age. She will be unattractive by society's 
standards. As a punishment for getting old, 
she will have to wear a girdle. She will end 
her life being surrounded on all sides by 
rubber and elastic. 

— Mimi Smith, 1966 

photo by Cathy Cockrell 

I turn the corner and see them waiting. I 
brace myself, put on the outer shield, hur- 
ry past while they comment ... on me. 
And it will happen again. And again and 

Running a gauntlet? Walking a mine 
field? No. This describes a woman's typi- 
cal afternoon walk through any neighbor- 
hood. There is nothing that so graphically 
differentiates the public experience of 
men and women. 

Wolf whistles and intimate comments 
are said to be merely a friendly institution 
of male/female contact. The men intend 
to compliment, I'm told. So I feel con- 
fused when I don't like the attention I'm 
getting, and embarrassed at the mere 
thought of confronting this experience 
with a label as drastic as "public 

The privilege of publicly scrutinizing 
the female figure is indulgently viewed as 
a grown-up "boys will be boys" tradition, 
a trivial pastime unrelated to the female/ 
male struggle for power and dignity. It has 
been institutionalized in songs ("Standing 
on the corner watching all the girls go 
by"), in movies, in advertisements, in 
jokes and in proverbs ("Man is the head 
but woman turns it"). It is institutional- 
ized further by teenage etiquette books 
written for girls which offer advice on the 
proper response to a wolf whistle. 

However, public harassment in the 
guise of simple friendliness— for all its 
superficial harmlessness— needs to be ex- 
posed as the manipulative expression of 
power that it ultimately is. 

A brief description of public harass- 
ment is enough to reveal the surprisingly 
transparent camouflage of its intent to 
flatter. The key here is that the speaker 
making the public comment (about the 
physical characteristics of a person he 
doesn't know) assumes total control in a 
situation he has unilaterally created by his 
statement. The content of this random 
statement can be "flattering" or crudely 
insulting at the initiator's sole discretion. 
The person toward whom the comment is 
directed has the option of responding 
after the fact, but is initially subject to the 
commenter's whim. This freedom to com- 
ment randomly on another person's 
appearance in public clearly affords a 
power position. 

The peculiarity of public harassment is 
that it is a one-way assumed privilege 
which is culturally sanctioned for men 
only. Women may comment and publicly 
tease their male friends and acquaint- 
ances, but it is not common or acceptable 
behavior for women to make public com- 
ments on the physical appearance of men 
they don't know. 

The notion that this is trivial behavior is 

not borne out by the experiences of wom- 
en who have confronted their harassers 
with expressions of disapproval. They 
have been met with sudden outrage be- 
cause women who don't appreciate this 
involuntary subjection to male appraisal 
(i.e., do not fulfill the expected function 
as receiver/reflector of male virility and 
aggression) become insults to the Ameri- 
can male's image of himself. "Beautiful" 
turns instantly to "Cunt." There are few 
inbetweens. Misogyny is thinly veiled. 

The first function of public harassment 
is to reinforce spatial boundaries that 
drastically limit women's "sphere." It 
clearly stakes out public space as male 
space. Women who want to be outside 
their homes must do so at their own risk 
and with the full knowledge that at any 
time they can be publicly humiliated or 
"complimented." Women are at all times 
subject to public scrutiny. Men in offices, 
on the street, from their trucks, in ele- 
vators and in stores all assume the right to 
comment. They can comment on various 
parts of women's anatomy, clothes, 
weight, hair color, emotional state, race 
and age. Nothing is beyond comment. On 
some level this always requires that wom- 
en respond emotionally. Even when the 
whistle feels complimentary, one is 
inevitably self-conscious when one knows 
one is being watched and evaluated. Often 
the whistle or comment generates feelings 
of embarrassment, anger or fear and is an 
intrusion on one's time and privacy. Con- 
stant badgering or teasing also saps our 
energy. From the boys on the playground 
to the men on the street — it is endless 
confrontation. Being the object of such 
unrelieved evaluation is like being on stage 
every minute out of the house. 

Constant subjection to male scrutiny is 
a reminder that this is not woman's do- 
main, that women must not relax or be off 
guard in public. It reinforces the notion 
that men are the lookers, the evaluators, 
the judges, the people who set the stand- 
ards of acceptance and recognition. The 
street becomes the school where women 
learn to compete for the only attention 
that really matters, to conform to the 
established norms set by men in order to 
obtain the approval of men, i.e., public 

The second function of public harass- 
ment is the meshing of one half of the 
world into a single category. The under- 
lying message is that women are inter- 
changeable. Comments, whether they are 
overtly flattering or degrading, are arbi- 
trary; they are meant for women in 
(continued on page 39) 




ome n 


In August 1974, at an international femi- 
nist camp in Denmark, a group of women 
decided that feminists had to protest the 
token gesture the United Nations had 
made in designating 1975 International 
Women's Year. Although the extent of 
the indifference was still unknown, it was 
already clear that the U.N. had made a 
very limited commitment to deal with the 
severe social, economic, political and 
medical needs of women throughout the 
world. Only later did we all learn how this 
male-dominated organization cavalierly 
allocated for 1975 the smallest budget ever 
proposed for one of its special annual 
projects. As a way of taking a public 
stand against this travesty, the women 
gathered in Denmark decided to stage a 
tribunal, one in which unknown women, 
from the capitalist, socialist and Third 
Worlds, would come together to testify 
about the crimes committed against them. 
After a series of organizational and pro- 
motional meetings, in Frankfurt, Paris, 
Mexico City, London and East Berlin, 
2000 women, representing at least 40 
countries, assembled in Brussels in March 
1976 and held a five-day International Tri- 
bunal on Crimes Against Women. 

The Tribunal was one of the largest in- 
ternational feminist events to occur in 
recent years. Comparing it to the U.N. 
meeting in Mexico City, Simone de Beau- 
voir said in her opening remarks to the 
Tribunal: "In contrast to Mexico where 
women, directed by their political parties, 
by their nations, were only seeking to inte- 
grate Woman into a male society, you are 
gathered here to denounce the oppression 
to which women are subjected in this so- 
ciety.'" What is more, the Tribunal direct- 
ly challenged ideologues on the right and 
on the left, those who glorified traditional 
cultures and those who heralded the free- 
doms brought about by advanced technol- 
ogy. In Brussels, women who represented 
different social classes and cultures, who 
proclaimed different political tendencies 

and sexual orientations, all joined to de- 
nounce a world where virtually every 
state, no matter what its relationship to 
capital is, supports a social system that 
discriminates against women. 

The Tribunal provided a forum for 
women to plead their cases as well as a 
place for feminists to draw up resolutions 
and political strategies. It was not, how- 
ever, a platform for presenting elaborate 
new theories on the oppression of women. 
Still, for those willing to listen and reflect, 
the horrific stories shared by the victims 
reminded. us that we cannot ignore, but 
have to find explanations for, the wide- 
spread—if not universal — brutal oppres- 
sion of women. As Gayle Rubin so poig- 
nantly put it, "No analysis of the 
reproduction of labor power under capi- 
talism can explain foot-binding, chastity 
belts, or any of the incredible array of 
Byzantine, fetishized indignities, let alone 
the more ordinary ones, which have been 
inflicted upon women in various times 
and places." 2 

The Tribunal identified five categories 
of crimes, many of which are not even rec- 
ognized as such by international or na- 
tional codes of law: 

— Sexual crimes: rape, sexual molestation 
of children, persecution of lesbians, abuse 
of women and girls in pornography, clit- 
orectomy and infibulation. 
— Women political prisoners: torture and 

—Family and the Jaw: forced mother- 
hood due to outlawing abortion, 
economic dependency necessitated by the 
structure of the nuclear family, welfare 
system, persecution of lesbian mothers, 

— Medical and reproductive crimes: 
forced sterilization, brutalization of the 
childbirth process, psychiatric role rein- 
forcement in the name of ensuring mental 

— Economic crimes: unpaid housework, 
women as a surplus labor force, sex dis- 
crimination in employment, sexual ha- 
rassment at the place of work, layoffs. 

In every category, many of the crimes 

specifically involved sexual assaults, or at 
the very least the abuse of women's bod- 
ies. In every category, many of the crimes 
specifically served to enjoin women that 
they are inferior to men, both in terms of 
physical strength and social status. In 
every category, many of the crimes were 
sanctioned and executed by representa- 
tives of male-dominated states, male- 
dominated local institutions and/or male- 
dominated family structures. The Tribu- 
nal, in other words, dramatically suggest- 
ed that despite the social and economic 
variations from one culture to another, 
women experience male violence as the ul- 
timate means of social control in almost 
every society around the world. 

The possibility that things are signifi- 
cantly different in 'classless societies, 
where women, like men, participate 
actively in the means of production, is an 
issue still hotly debated among feminist 
anthropologists today. 3 When all the rhet- 
oric is eliminated, however, many of us 
feel that there is enough doubt in the lit- 
erature to urge us on to seek explanations 
which transcend a purely materialist anal- 
ysis. While agreeing that the role women 
play in the economic sphere is an impor- 
tant component, and while being uncom- 
fortable with ahistorical, universalistic 
interpretations which veer dangerously to- 
ward sociobiology, many of us insist that 
serious attention be given to the super- 
structure as well, i.e., the ideology of the 
particular society under consideration. 
The women among the African Bushmen 
(hunters and gatherers) provide, for ex- 
ample, 80% of the band's diet, while men 
contribute only 20%. But what is the sig- 
nificance of their 80% when the men's 
20% is more culturally valued? 4 Then 
there are the horticulturalist Mundurucu 
of Brazil, where the men control their 
women by threats of gang rape, despite 
the productive hours women spend in 
Mundurucu gardens.' 

(continued on page 40) 


general. In a single afternoon walk one 
woman may be the recipient of both whis- 
tles and insults. Women, being inter- 
changeable, can fit any male fantasy. 

There is a widespread cultural endorse- 
ment for the myth that a whistle aimed in 
a woman's direction is a compliment on 
her own appearance and that it is an ex- 
pression of genuine appreciation. We are 
encouraged, in the Hanes stocking ads, 
for example, to be the "other woman" 
who can turn the head of a male even 
when he is already accompanied by a 
beautiful woman. To be able to generate 
this sort of male recognition is the sign of 
a successfully "feminine" female. Or so 
the myth goes. 

In The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for 
Feminist Revolution, Shulamith Firestone 
argues that such a process of differenti- 
ating women only by physical attributes 
deliberately blinds women to our condi- 
tion of invisibility. She gives the example 
of seeing each secretary in an office perk 
up when a man exclaims, "I love 
blondes!" Each wants to be "the" 
blonde, though she would accomplish rec- 
ognition merely by being one of a rather 
large group. In addition, Firestone points 
out that, when women are recognized only 
on the basis of their external qualities, 
male individuality (accomplishments, 
ideas, interests) becomes conveniently 

Some women enjoy public comments 
and whistles and may actively encourage 
them; however, women are never individ- 
ually asked if this public judgment from a 
stranger is desired or would be appreci- 
ated. It is the male harasser's assumption 
that all women deserve comment and 
want it. This blanket assumption tran- 
scends any allegation of the harasser's 
good will by its blind disregard for indi- 
vidual preferences and temperament. 

A third function of the public harass- 
ment of women by men is the reinforce- 
ment of one-way familiarity. The 
assumption is that all women can be spok- 
en to intimately and informally even 
though they are strangers. This presump- 
tuous intimacy stems from and reinforces 
an internalized hierarchy which implies a 
lesser regard and lower status of women in 
general as it ultimately reduces every 
woman to the common denominator. 
There is judgment in a tradition that sanc- 
tions a nonreversible male-to-female 

In a seemingly parallel insight regarding 
another aspect of the politics of public 
familiarity, Nancy Henley, the author of 
Body Politics, has investigated the sig- 
nificance of sex, power, and non-verbal 
communication in our hierarchy-ridden 
society. She points to "the network of 
touch privileges," "micropolitical ges- 
tures" and "tactual assertion of author- 
ity" and generally establishes that people 
are more likely to touch their subordinates 
and co-workers than their bosses. Similar- 
ly, in other interactions between pairs of 
persons of different social status (teacher/ 
student, minister/parishioner, foreman/ 
worker), the typical pattern that emerges 
is of the superior-status person touching 
the inferior-status one; the pattern of 
touch thus reflects its hierarchical signifi- 
cance. Henley further establishes a con- 
vincing argument relating touch to power 
and gender. She carefully demonstrates 
how touch is used as a tool to perpetuate 
the social order in this male-dominated 

Henley's research into the social sig- 
nificance of physical familiarity would 
appear to support my argument that the 
one-way familiarity of street harassment is 
a form of social control, subtler than rape 
(and in no way comparable in conse- 
quence) but certainly as effective because 
women have been socialized to think that 
this familiarity is elevating rather than 

Such presumptuous familiarity does not 
exist in isolation but fits into an unpleas- 
ant package for women. American prov- 
erbs sustain a direct connection between 
desirability and vulnerability, and indicate 
by their presence in the "familiar quota- 
tions" books in the library that this think- 
ing has had a long history. "Ugliness is 
the guardian of women." "Plain women 
are as safe as churches." 

In the wake of the Son of Sam's terror- 
izing, Madison Avenue saw fit 'to make a 
profit on the linking of desirability and 
vulnerability. "Warning! ... A Pretty 
Face Isn't Safe In This City!" was the 

slogan for Max Factor's face moisturizer 
"Self-Defense." In the smaller print it 
was explained that this was self-defense 
against the city's dirt and pollution which 
could ruin a face with skin problems, but 
the terminology was blatantly based on 
the fact of crimes against women. The 
warning was true and Max Factor played 
on every woman's victim role to sell that 
moisturizer. It used male predators as the 
status quo and built a clever ad campaign 
on the reality of crimes against women. 
And it was able to do this because this 
reality is taken for granted. No one had to 
ask what the ad was referring to. It was 
also assumed that most women would not 
be offended by this ad. In fact the adver- 
tising mentality assumed that the reverse 
was true: women, being concerned with 
self-defense, would respond positively to 
this advertisement by buying the product. 
Overt sexism sells. The male-as-predator 
role, trivialized by the Max Factor promo- 
tion team, is fed by the everyday treat- 
ment of women as public property. 

Public familiarity is the bottom line of 
the spectrum reinforcing the larger crimes 
against women. Like alcoholism that 
starts with "just a social drink," public 
harassment is "just a harmless passing 
comment" which grows hideous. Each 
level of harassment provides the excuse 
for the next, and the process gathers mo- 
mentum as it rolls across our cultural 

The privilege of commenting publicly 
on a woman's body is legitimized by the 
big money-makers in that self-righteous 
second cousin, the Beauty Contest. From 
public evaluation of female bodies in the 
flesh, it is just one step to spreading the 
naked female form across the centerfolds 
of magazines and from there to showing 
women, bruised or in chains, on record 
covers. X-rated movies are big business, 
and prime-time television dramas are 
often made of the crimes against women, 
with rapists apprehended and found guilty 
only after some juicy, fantasy-inspiring 
footage of female terror. Given such a 
firm foundation, is it any wonder that we 
are daily bombarded with the news 
reports of rapes, attacks, murders to an 
extent that women are on one level always 
aware of the risk of walking the streets? 

The theme of impending victimization 
is reinforced by the continual annoyance 
of simple public confrontation until fi- 
nally the entire hierarchy of harassment 
creates and sustains a long-term terroriz- 
ing effect on women. 

— Pam McAllister 
©1978 Para McAllister 


True, certain groups of men, particular- 
ly in a class society, are also controlled by 
violence (almost always male violence) 
and often by the very same institutions 
that dominate women. Still, as Marx him- 
self recognized, borrowing — but not 
acknowledging — the idea from Flora 
Tristan, women are the proletariat's pro- 
letariat. 6 

To return to the issue at hand, what is 
important in theoretical terms, and what 
is confirmed by the cases presented at the 
Tribunal, is that women are very often 
punished — some may say socialized — with 
sexual violence. When necessary, women 
are kept in line by men who sexually hu- 
miliate them, who forcefully determine 
their productive and reproductive roles in 
society, and, by extension, control female 
sexuality. As Margaret Mead said in com- 
menting on forms of social control, men 
are killed and women raped.' 

How is it that women can be controlled 
by male sexual aggression? What is there 
in the nature of male/ female relations that 
so defiantly challenges even the best socio- 
logical explanations? Obviously we need 
to know more about cultural attitudes 
toward violence against women. 

The story of the International Tribunal 
has been told in detail in The Proceedings 
of the International Tribunal on Crimes 
Against Women. 

The New York Tribunal 

In March 1975, when the International 
Tribunal was in the beginning organiza- 
tional stages, a number of us felt that such 
an important feminist speak-out should 

not take place in a centralized location. 
Instead, parallel tribunals should be 
mounted in as many parts of the world as 
possible. If we were serious about wanting 
to involve working-class and peasant 
women in significant numbers, instead of 
merely organizing the usual, sectarian, 
middle-class feminist event, then speak- 
outs, all timed to take place simultaneous- 
ly, had to be situated where the "people' 1 
lived. We could not expect poor women to 
travel long distances to one centralized 

With the idea of trying to interest wom- 
en from different parts of the world, 
Diana Russell, Lydia Horton (an Ameri- 
can living in Brussels) and I went to the 
U.N. meeting in Mexico City the follow- 
ing June. At the Tribune (not to be con- 
fused with the Tribunal), where non- 
governmental organizations met, we 
got permission to hold what turned out to 
be a dress rehearsal for the Brussels Tri- 
bunal. As we anticipated, with the excep- 
tion of Domitila Barrios de Chungara, the 
wife of a Bolivian miner who had herself 
become a union organizer,' virtually all of 
the women who participated in our speak- 
out came from middle-class backgrounds. 
Clearly the women invited to attend the 
U.N. meetings, either as government or 

nongovernment representatives, were by 
and large professional women. 9 What is 
more, most of these women did not see 
themselves as feminists. If they came from 
socialist or Third World countries, they 
predictably considered feminism a capital- 
ist imperialist plot. If they were from the 
capitalist world, all too often they dis- 
missed the Movement as well, with the 
usual cliches about "those man-hating 
women." 10 

Given the difficulties we had in Mexico 
City, it was amazing that we met as many 
interested women as we did. Unfortunate- 
ly, the dream of organizing coordinated 
tribunals around the world was not real- 
ized, but the New York Tribunal was con- 
ceived in Mexico as well as the subse- 
quently organized support rallies which 
took place in Tokyo, San Francisco and 
Philadelphia. Furthermore, women who 
participated in Mexico City kept in touch 
both with the Brussels and New York Tri- 
bunals. In particular we received 

' ■ 






letters from Latin America asking us to 
raise money to help the ever-growing 
number of political prisoners. 

Back in New York, we began to meet 
regularly in mid-September and continued 
to do so until the actual Tribunal took 
place at the end of February." From the 
beginning we believed it was essential that 
our Tribunal combine personal testimony 
with analysis. We were also committed to 
the principle of involving individuals who 
represented a wide range of political and 
religious organizations as well as different 
racial and ethnic groups. Many, but by no 
means all of us, felt that the feminist 
movement had reached a point where it 1 
had to make alliances with other political 
groups if it was to continue to grow in 
terms of both^achieving specific material 
objectives and oroadening its ideological 
understanding of the causes and condi- 
tions for the oppression of women. We 
knew we were taking a risk, almost en- 
suring that there would be conflict, but 
the risk was essential and ultimately 
productive. 12 

The edited testimonies presented here • 
demonstrate how politically important 
and truly collective in spirit and organi- 
zation the Tribunal was. Although we 
have no figures to indicate how many of 
the women who attended were inspired to 
join groups or create new organizations, 
we do know that there was a significant 
exchange of information and perspec- 

One final remark. Although I have 
written about the Tribunal in the collec- 
tive "we," I want to make entirely clear 
that the interpretations here of the events 
and of their significance for feminist 

(continued on page 42) 

husband held a gun to my head all 
morning and dared me to breathe. 
When I finally went to the probation 
officer, she didn't believe me. It took 
me three weeks to see the judge and when I finally did 
he told me to go home and try to work it out. 

Now my husband has left and Welfare has told me that I have to find him 
so that they can make him pay child support. My children scream because 
he shouts at me and hits me in front of them. He has thrown me out at 
night and told me to go but I can't leave the children and it's hard to get a 
room with children. My husband has assaulted me and threatened to kill me. 
I had him arrested and he got a two-month suspended sentence. Finally I 
had to move out of my apartment and he is in possession of all my worldly 
goods. I can't afford a lawyer and legal aid can't help me. Where do I go 
from here? Does anybody have the answers? 

When the police answer a call, you feel that they're smirking. You feel 
put down. After a few calls they stop responding. Once when I called them 
to make an arrest, they refused. 

Women's cries for help may fall upon deaf ears. Many are refused protec- 
tion by the police and family courts and are neglected by social service 
agencies. Few shelters exist and the usual experience of these women is that 
nobody cares and nobody wants to get involved. How many of us have 
heard arguments from our neighbors — screams, cries, broken dishes, what 
have you? How many of us have called the police or chosen to get involved? 
Do you remember the case of Kitty Genovese? The neighbors actually heard 
the poor woman being killed and slaughtered, but they didn't want to get 
involved because they thought it was a family dispute. 

There are intangible pressures that can render a woman immobile and 
prevent her from taking any further action. Her shame and guilt at having 
"failed" at a successful marriage or relationship make it difficult for her to 
admit to others that she is being beaten. She therefore covers up: "I walked 
into a door," "I had an automobile accident," never "My husband did it." 
Tell your doctor. Have him write it up. Because if you cover it up you may 
be covered by the ground. 

Very often an abused woman is confused and doesn't know her rights, 
doesn't know what to do, especially if there are children involved. She may 
hope that the situation will improve. Years of battering have lowered her 
self-esteem. She is too shaken, despairing and afraid to do anything. 

In a culture that instinctively relies upon military solutions to problems, 
how can brute force and use of lethal weapons in the home be considered 
anything but the norm? Violence is tolerated in the home. It wasn't until 
about ten years ago that society recognized that children have rights and that 
parents are responsible for maiming and brutalizing their own children. It is 
high time that society condemned the violence suffered by women in married 
and companion relationships. Children who witness or are themselves 
victims of actual acts of violence are likely to perpetuate violent households 
as adults. The time has come to recognize that patterns of violence are trans- 
ferred from one generation to another. 

This cycle must be broken by creative and flexible legal and psychological 
progress. What is needed first and foremost are emergency aide shelters to 
provide comprehensive services to abused women and children — advice and 
refuge as well as the means for immediate extrication from the violent and 
potentially life-threatening home situation." 

— Edited from testimony by Abused Women's Aid in Crisis 


"Iran is a huge dungeon where women are 
.being imprisoned and tortured daily. Most 
people know about the CIA coup in Chile, 
but very few know that the CIA organized a coup in 
Iran in 1953. Ever since, the repression has increased. 

Amnesty International has stated that Iran has the worst record of human 
rights in the world. 

What kind of crimes have Iranian women political prisoners committed? 
One was arrested because she, as a sociologist, had been investigating the 
living conditions of Iran's peasant population. As a result of harsh torture 
and imprisonment, Vidi Tabrizi has lost any sense of feeling in her hands 
and feet. She has developed a bad heart, poor blood circulation, meningitis, 
and no longer menstruates at all. 

This repression does not just apply to adults, but also to young girls. 
Amnesty International reported the case of a four-year-old who was 
whipped and cut in the neck with scissors before the eyes of her mother. 

The Shah's wife and sister come to the United States and are called 
"feminists." But I am here to tell you that these people are not representa- 
tives of women in Iran, and they are not "feminists." 

It was American tax dollars that financed the 1953 CIA coup in Iran, and 
led to the repression and torture that is still occurring today." 
853 Broadway, 4th Floor 
NYC 10003 

" I think it helps to realize that the people 
we are talking about are not only victims 
of oppression, they are also fighters. 

It's hard to talk about South Africa without thinking constantly of the 
tremendous role that the U.S. plays in the repression and exploitation in 
South Africa. So we have two jobs in the U.S.— there is the very direct one 
of focusing attention on the political prisoners, to see that they are not 
forgotten, but the other, even greater responsibility is to challenge the poli- 
cies of the American government. 

According to the South African government, there are no political pris- 
oners. South Africa has a population of 25 million; 5 million whites and 20 
million Blacks. The 5 million whites have all the power and all the wealth, 
while the 20 million Blacks produce all the good things in life, the necessary 
things, and yet have nothing. I think it it true to say that all Black people in 
South Africa are political prisoners. 

Black women are oppressed as workers, as Blacks and as women. They 
are always at the very bottom of the pyramid. 

But Black women have been strong participants in every aspect of the 
political struggle in South Africa. They have fought to establish trade unions 
although unions are illegal for Black workers. They have gone on strike 
although when you strike in South Africa you face the boss and the police. 
They have fought against the pass system. They have fought as teachers 
against the imposition of slave education. They have fought in the country- 
side, where the government has stripped them of their land. 

Women have been banned, subjected to house arrest, and have also been 
held incommunicado under the Terrorism Act. It is even illegal to try and 

(continued on page 43) 

theory are personal evaluations. As I have 
said already, our group represented a wide 
range of political and personal orienta- 
tions and 1 do not therefore presume to 
speak for everybody. I have simply shared 
my own opinions of what was objectively 
a collective effort. Nothing more, nothing 
less. The choice of testimonies represents 
the editing of Dianne Feeley and Lisa Gar- 
rison. It is unfortunate that even more of 
us who participated in the Tribunal did 
not contribute at the "writing-up" stage. 
Our experiences and views varied in rich 
and significant ways." 

— Judith Friedlander 


1. Quoted in Diana E. H. Russell and Nicole Van 
de Ven (eds.), The Proceedings of the Inter- 
national Tribunal on Crimes Against Women 
(Millbrae, Cal.: Les Femmes Press, 1976), p. xi i- 

2. Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women," in Ray- 
na R. Reiter (ed.), Toward an Anthropology of 
Women (New York; Monthly Review Press, 
1975), p. 163. 

3. See Kathleen Gough, "The Origin of the Fami- 
ly," Karen Sacks, "Engels Revisited: Women, 
the Organization of Production, and Private 
Property," Ruby Rohrlich-Leavitt, Barbara 
Sykes, and Elizabeth Weatherford, "Aboriginal 
Woman: Male and Female Anthropological Per- 
spectives," Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Wom- 
en," all in Rayna R. Reiter (ed.), Toward an 
Anthropology of Women. See also Eleanor Lea- 
cock, "Introduction to Fredrick Engels," The 
Origins of the Family, Private Property and the 
State (New York: International Publishers, 

4. Patricia Draper, "IKung Women: Foraging and 
Sedentary Contexts," in Rayna Reiter (ed.), 
Toward an Anthropology of Women, p. 82. 

5. Yolanda Murphy and Robert Murphy, Women 
of the Forest (New York: Columbia University 
Press, 1974). 

6. Dominique Desanti, Flora Tristan (Paris: 
Hachette Press, 1972). 

7. Taped interview, Dec. 1976. 

8. Moema Viezzer (ed.), 'Si me permiten hablar 
. . . ' Testimonio de Domitila una mujer de las 
minas de Bolivia (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1977). 
Domitila appears in the film The Double Day, 
directed by Helena Solberg- Ladd- 

9. The only sizable group of nonprofessional wom- 
en present at the congress were the Indians, per- 
haps 100 of them, who had been bused into Mex- 
ico City from the countryside, to provide a little 
folklore for the large group of foreigners. These 
women did not participate in the ad hoc work- 
shops that, in spite of everything, some feminists 
like ourselves did manage to organize. Instead, 
they sat — as instructed — for endless hours in the 
regular sessions, listening to specialists tell them 
and others about the problems rural women have 
around the world. 

10. The Mexico City Women Liberation group did 
not receive permission even to enter the conven- 
tion center and N.O.W. only obtained the right 
to participate as a nongovernmental organiza- 
tion at the last minute. Originally it was con- 
sidered too radical for the meetings. 

11. Approximately 1000 women participated in the 
New York Tribunal, which took place at Colum- 
bia University one week before the Brussels Tri- 
bunal. Since then, Lisa Garrison has put together 
a slide show based on the Tribunal, entitled 
"Crimes Against Women in the Family and the 


12. The New York Tribunal was divided into com- 
mittees, each one responsible for organizing one 
of the five categories of crimes: 
Crimes Against Women in the Family 
and the Law 

NY Radical Feminists 

Lesbian Feminist Liberation 

Wages for Housework 

Sisterhood of Black Single Mothers 

American Civil Liberties Union 


International Indian Treaty Council 
Women Political Prisoners 

Women for Action in Chile 

US Committee for Justice to Latin American 
Political Prisoners 


Committee for Artistic and Intellectual Free- 
dom in Iran 

American Committee on Africa 

National Student Coalition Against Racism 

Amnesty International 

Committee for the Defense of Soviet Political 
Sexual Crimes Against Women 

Mayor's Task Force on Rape 

NOW Rape Prevention Committee 

Women Against Rape 

Women's Martial Arts Center 
Medical Crimes 

Committee to End Sterilization Abuse 

NOW Medical Committee 

Puerto Rican Socialist Party 
Economic Crimes Against Women 

Women Office Workers 

Women in Local 32J of the International 
Union of Building Service Employees 

Shop Steward of Local 241 of the Transport 
Workers Union 

Columbia University maids' struggle 

Women professors in university sex discrimi- 
nation suits 
13. The Tribunal was transcribed from tapes by 

SUNY Purchase students: 

Rhonda Arbeit 

Jan Calabro 

Denise Delisser 

Fran Eicholz 

Leslie Elges 

Susan Goodstein 

Reena Manusco 

Pam Murtha 

Robin Newmark 

Lili Reisner 

Carrie Schaffer 

find out what has happened to the detained person. The detained prisoner 
has no right to see her family, or even her lawyer. 

Women have also been subject to South Africa's system of interrogation, 
which includes the standard electric shock treatment as well as sleep depriva- 
tion. Sleep deprivation does not leave any scars. But it destroys one's 
orientation, one's capacity to function as a human being. Winny Mandella, 
who was tried in 1969-70 under the Terrorism Act, was held in solitary 
confinement for six months and then subjected to five days and nights of 
constant interrogation. 

What I'd like to really leave you with is a sense of responsibility as Ameri- 
cans for understanding what the American government is doing and for 
doing something to turn that policy around." 

— Jennifer Davis 

American Committee on Africa 

305 E. 46th St. NYC 10017 

" This first indictment I make 
in the name of all of our fore- 
lw&-<£W - mothers who were also healers. 

Some we know because they were also political leaders: Anne Hutchinson, 
the dissident legislator who was a midwife and feminist; Harriet Tubman, the 
Black leader who led so many slaves to freedom, who was a feminist and a mid- 
wife; Emma Goldman, anarchist, feminist and midwife. And in the name of 
the millions of unknown witches who died because of their skills, the Black 
slave women whose healing was part of an underground culture of resistance, 
the European immigrant midwives who served the working women in this and 
many other cities in this country. 

In the name of these women I indict the medical profession for the usurpa- 
tion and theft of those healing skills which belonged to the community of 
women, for turning human care into a commodity to be sold and for turning 
skills and knowledge which were ours into private property hoarded by an elite. 
All the other crimes I want to mention are consequent on that one. And all the 
other indictments follow that indictment. 

First, when even the most basic health care was turned into a capitalist com- 
modity, it ceased to be available to the poor. In the name of the at least 15 mil- 
lion women in this country who live in extreme poverty and millions more 
around the. world, I indict the entire medical system for the denial of basic hu- 
man care and services — prenatal, infant and preventative. I lay before you in 
particular the deaths of 40,000 babies a year in this country alone for lack of 
maternal nutrition and health services. I think the charge should be murder. 

The second particular indictment I want-to bring forth is that health care has 
less and less to do with the needs of women and more and more to do with the 
priorities of the men who control it. I indict the medical profession in collusion 
with the owners and administrators of medical institutions for a relentless cam- 
paign of surgical aggression against women. In the nineteenth century it was the 
removal of the clitoris and the ovaries, performed to tame women and enrich 
doctors. Today the uterus and the ovaries are the principal targets. Hysterec- 
tomies are a 400 million dollar a year business in this country. At least half are 
performed for no good medical reason, and those unnecessary hysterectomies 
result in the deaths of approximately 6,000 women per year. The charge should 
be murder. 

Third, I indict the medical profession for conspiring with'third parties — gov- 

(continued on page 45) 



In our city, the protest against the film 
Snuff involved the arrest of four women 
charged with breaking a window and do- 
ing some spray painting in the course of 
removing the poster for the film which de- 
picted a naked woman's body being cut to 
pieces with a gigantic pair of scissors. 
Since the arrests, some discussion has 
gone on among feminists in the commun- 
ity regarding the question of non-violence. 
Many people have challenged the "vio- 
lent" nature of the acts with which the 
four women have been charged. It has be- 
come a question of ideology: "Is the 
women's movement non-violent, or not?" 
The implication is that if we are not non- 
violent, we are no good, because, as prod- 
ucts of the sixties, we consider non- 
violence a positive quality for a movement 
to have and violence a negative one. 

Shortly after the arrests, I was in a 
room with a group of women discussing 
this topic. One said she approved of vio- 
lence as a means to an end. One was into 
passive resistance. One preferred direct 
action. One thought that violence against 
property was okay, but not against peo- 
ple. One maintained we should actively 
practice self-defense. It began sounding 
vaguely like a Jules Feiffer cartoon. But 
an important issue was being raised. Are 
we, indeed, violent or not? 

For non-violence to have any meaning, 
an oppressed people must be able to 
choose between it and violence. If there is 
no choice, non-violence loses its meaning, 
its potential effect. One pictures great 
masses of Indians, or Blacks perhaps, who 
could stage a bloody uprising, but who do 
not— who march peacefully by the thous- 
ands in the streets in order to make a point 
— who allow themselves to be beaten and 
dragged off to jail without struggle so that 
the oppressors are seen in their true 
colors. This is political non-violence as we 


know it in contemporary society. Non- 
violence capitalizes on the fear that a rul- 
ing class has of its teeming masses. Non- 
violence creates martyrs when the masses 
withdraw their immediate threat to prove 
their own victimization. 

But women are not a direct physical 
threat to the male ruling class. It is also 
questionable whether or not women could 
be violent, could stage a bloody uprising, 
even if we wanted to. Our conditioning 
has made us utterly passive, and we have 
lacked the communication among our- 
selves necessary to wage any real battles. 
Imagine the burning of nine million witch- 
es without protest— systematic infanticide 
directed toward female children for cen- 
turies without protest— the exchange of 
all women as property among men with- 
out protest — the rape of the women of all 
conquered nations without protest. Imag- 
ine any other oppressed. group suffering 
injustices of a similar scale without pro- 
test, without bloody uprising just once in 
those centuries. At its most activist stage, 
the women's movement in England during 
the first decades of this century did man- 
age to break some windows and set fire to 
some mailboxes, but real violence was 
never unleashed on men. Never. Contrast 
this to the brutal force feeding of women 
in English prisons during the same period, 
often resulting in severe injury and some- 
times even death. 

The very idea of an organized violent 
uprising of women against men is never 
taken seriously, not by us, not by anybody. 
The names of recent radical feminist 
organizations such as S.C.U.M. (The So- 
ciety for Cutting Up Men) and W.I.T.C.H. 
(The Women's International Terrorist 
Conspiracy from Hell) make us somehow 
revel in the very power of these words, but 
we all know they are nothing but words, 
and fear is not struck in the hearts of men. 

It's like the teeshirt which reads, "The 
Ladies' Sewing Circle and Terrorist So- 
ciety." Just words — amusing, delicious 
words to a class of inherently passive 

The kind of protest we have been able 
to wage has been, at most, on the level of 
what males consider to be typical Hallow- 
een pranks. But when women commit 
these acts, they are labeled violent. The 
same acts were committed by the anti-war 
movement in the sixties in the name of 
non-violence because they involved only 
the destruction of property. But minor 
vandalism, when done by women, is vio- 
lent to be sure. In the case of our Snuff 
protest, the women arrested were charged 
with a felony and could get up to five 
years in jail. 

All of this may explain why the vio- 
lence/non-violence question has been 
such a thorny one for feminists. We are 
called violent (indeed, we actually consid- 
er ourselves violent) whenever we assert 
ourselves in the smallest ways. One wom- 
an recently described the verbal challeng- 
ing of men on the streets as an act of 
violence. The truth is that there is no 
space left for us in which to be non-violent 
by society's definitions and, at the same 
time, express ourselves. 

I am not advocating bloody uprising. I 
believe that physical violence is a male 
model which we vvould do well not to 
copy. I am talking about semantics. 

Let us not call our movement non- 
violent when we have no potential for vio- 
lence. Let us not shrink from assertive, 
direct action because this action is defined 
as violence by others, or even by our own 
gut feelings conditioned by centuries of 
oppression. Let us rise up and express 
ourselves in all necessary ways. 

— Karen Hagberg 

§ 1978 New Women's Tim?5, 
reprinted by perraissior' 

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ernmental, religious or private — to control the fertility of individual women 
throughout the world, for perpetuating forced or unexplained sterilizations on 
untold numbers of Native American and Third World women in the United 
States, Puerto Rico, India, Tunisia, Colombia for reasons of population reduc- 
tion and sheer racism. I indict them for conspiring to withhold information and 
techniques of contraception and abortion from millions of women in industri- 
alized countries — West Germany, Italy, Spain, Latin American countries. The 
charge should be conspiracy to defraud women of their basic right to biological 

Fourth, I indict the medical profession, in conspiracy with the drug com- 
panies, for countless assaults on women's bodies. Women have died from 
strokes, heart disease and cancer and suffered serious disablements as a result 
of drug companies' uncontrolled attempts to profit from every aspect of the 
female life cycle. With DES, for example, birth control pills, estrogen as ther- 
apy for menopause and so on. The extent of the damage is only beginning to be 
known, calculated and acknowledged. And I would single out here, with special 
outrage, the use of Third World women — Mexican, Puerto Rican and Chi- 
cano — by the drug companies as guinea pigs in the development of new 
hormonal products. 

Fifth, I would like to indict the medical profession for acting on its own and 
in collusion with drug companies in actively promoting and advancing sexist 
ideology, for taking the ancient male prejudice that women are passive, maso- 
chistic, hysterical, etc., and attempting to pass this kind of prejudice off as 
medical science, as biological truth. I must indict the medical system for using 
all its technological and institutional weapons to enforce this ideology on non- 
conforming women. First, by imprisoning half a million women in this country 
alone in mental hospitals for failing to be feminine. And finally, by subjecting 
literally millions of women to chemical incarceration with mood-altering drugs, 
not only in mental hospitals, but in prisons, in every neighborhood and every 
place where women work. 

Finally, I'd like to indict the medical profession for its systematic exploita- 
tion of the 80% of health care workers in this country who are women. Most 
occupy powerless positions and are subject to harrassments, office speedups, 
and live on miserably low wages. I charge the owners and administrators of 
medical institutions with dictatorial oppression of these women, including con- 
spiracies against their attempts to organize as women and as workers. 

The medical system as we know it now, a system so perverted by sexism, 
racism and profiteering that it actually generates disease, arose with the male 
takeover of medicine. Yet that does not mean that those crimes would be 
redressed simply by a female takeover of medicine. More women doctors would 
be helpful — more hospital administrators, druggists and so on. But these things 
cannot change the problem as it exists today. At this point we're not only up 
against male medicine, we're up against capitalist medicine. 

I could say that sentence in two different ways — rape and exploitation may 
be analogous on many different levels. Class rule and male domination may be 
analogous and they may make for interesting metaphors, but they are not the 
same thing. We need an analysis that makes this clear to us if we're going to 
make these changes. Things have gone so far that there's no way to confront 
the medical system in this country or throughout Western capitalist countries 
without confronting the entire medical industrial complex with its ties to 
banking, its ties to agribusiness, its ties to the arms industry. There is no way to 
work for health, for food, shelter, security, those kinds of things, for all 
women, without confronting imperialism, and I don't mean by that rape (I 
mean political and economic imperialism), and without confronting capitalism 
as an international system." 

— Edited from testimony by Barbara Ehrenreich 


All who are not of good race in this world 
are chaff. 

Hitler, Mein Kampf 

It would be lunacy to try to estimate the 
value of man according to his race, thus 
declaring war on the Marxist idea that 
men are equal, unless we are determined 
to draw the ultimate consequences. And 
the ultimate consequence of recognizing 
the importance of blood — that is, of the 
racial foundation in general — is the trans- 
ference of this estimation to the individual 

Hitler, Mein Kampf 

Hisses. Women shouting at me: slut, bi- 
sexual, she fucks men. And before I had 
spoken, I had been trembling, more afraid 
to speak than I had ever been. And, in a 
room of 200 sister lesbians, as angry as I 
have ever been. "Are you a bisexual? " 
some woman screamed over the pandemo- 
nium, the hisses and shouts merging into a 
raging noise. "I'm a Jew," I answered; 
then, a pause, "and a lesbian, and a wom- 
an." And a coward. Jew was enough. In 
that room, Jew was what mattered. In 
that room, to answer the question "Do 
you still fuck men?" with a No, as I did, 

was to betray my deepest convictions. All 
of my life, I have hated the proscribers, 
those who enforce sexual conformity. In 
answering, I had given in to the inquisi- 
tors, and I felt ashamed. It humiliated me 
to see myself then: one who resists the en- 
forcers out there with militancy, but gives 
in without resistance to the enforcers 
among us. 

The event was a panel on "Lesbianism 
as a Personal Politic" that took place in 
New York City, Lesbian Pride Week 1977. 
A self-proclaimed lesbian separatist had 
spoken. Amidst the generally accurate de- 
scription of male crimes against women 
came this ideological rot, articulated of 
late with increasing frequency in feminist 
circles: women and men are distinct spe- 
cies or races (the words are used inter- 
changeably); men are biologically inferior 
to women; male violence is a biological in- 
evitability; to eliminate it, one must 
eliminate the species/race itself (means 
stated on this particular evening: develop- 
ing parthenogenesis as a viable reproduc- 
tive reality); in eliminating the biologically 
inferior species/race Man, the new Uber- 

mensch Womon (prophetically foresha- 
dowed by the lesbian separatist* herself) 
will have the earthly dominion that is her 
true biological destiny. We are left to infer 
that the society of her creation will be 
good because she is good, biologically 
good. In the interim, incipient Super- 
Womon will not do anything to "encour- 
age" women to "collaborate" with men 
— no abortion clinics or battered woman 
sanctuaries will come from her. After all, 
she has to conserve her "energy" which 
must not be dissipated keeping "weaker" 
women alive through reform measures. 

The audience applauded the passages 
on female superiority/male inferiority 
enthusiastically. This doctrine seemed to 
be music to their ears. Was their dissent 
silent, buried in the applause? Was some 
of the response the spontaneous pleasure 

*Super\Vomon's ideology is distinguished from les- 
bian separatism in general (that is, lesbians organizing 
politically and/or culturally in exclusively female 
groups) by two articles of dogma: (1) a refusal to have 
anything to do with women who have anything to do 
with males, often including women with male children 
and (2) the absolute belief in the biological superiority 
of women. 



It is a large, public meeting hall. La Mutu- 
ality. We are in Paris. Two Days of De- 
nunciation of Crimes Against Women. 
Any woman could have the right to speak, 
it has been declared. There is a floor mike. 
But the days have been divided for discus- 
sion of specific subjects. First day: unwed 
mothers, married women, single women, 
homosexuality. Second day: sexual and 
ideological rape, salaried work, abortion- 
contraception, domestic work. Different 
groups take turns on the stage. Two days 
of personal testimony of crimes against 
women. Two days of testimony in solidar- 
ity in a public meeting.hall rented for the 
occasion, by which the personal becomes 
the public; hence, the political. 

But no — there are deviations from the 
program. The homosexual group does not 
give testimony; at least, it is not a testi- 
mony of outrage. They choose to make 
their testimony different from that of the 
others. They do not sit in a circle. They do 
not offer case histories, explanations, 
apologies. They stand. They dance. They 
sing. They touch. Arcadian echoes. Joy. 
Testament rather than testimony. A poli- 
tique of the joy of being. Each of us a 

Muse. Captained by a writer in a battered 
hat, singing and dancing together in Par- 
nassian re-enactment. It is infectious; 
women in the audience clap hands in 
rhythm and join in song. A moment of 

So ends the first day. 

It is the second day. Arcadia has been 
relegated to the outer lobby. Within the 
smoke-filled meeting hall, it is back to ser- 
ious business. Any woman could have the 
right to speak, it has been declared. Each 
group, according to the program, takes 
the stage to give a round of testimony. 

The Abortion-Contraception group is 
on the stage. They sit in a neat circle. The 
audience pays close attention. This is the 
group that was the prime mover of these 
days of denunciation of crimes against 
women. The meeting hall was rented in 
the name of a very important person who 
has associated herself with this group. She 
is modestly sitting midway in the far rim 
of this circle. In spite of her age, in spite 
of her being a very important personage, 
she too is sitting on the floor of the circle. 
She is dressed primly, like a dutiful 
daughter, in a black jumper and white 




that we all know when, at last, the tables 
are turned, even for a minute, even in 
imagination? Or has powerlessness driven 
us mad, so that we dream secret dreams of 
a final solution perfect in its simplicity, 
absolute in its efficacy? And will a leader 
someday strike that secret chord, harness 
those dreams, our own nightmare turned 
upside down? Is there no haunting, re- 
straining memory of the blood spilled, the 
bodies burned, the ovens filled, the peo- 
ples enslaved, by those who have assented 
throughout history to the very same 
demagogic logic? 

In the audience, I saw women I like or 
love, women not strangers to me, women 
who are good not because of biology but 
because they care about being good, swept 
along in a sea of affirmation. I spoke out 
because those women had applauded. I 
spoke out too because I am a Jew who has 
studied Nazi Germany, and I know that 
many Germans who followed Hitler also 
cared about being good, but found it easi- 
er to be good by biological definition than 
by act. Those people, wretched in what 

(continued on page 48) 

ich is prettier"? (Stanford-Binet, 1960 

g blouse. Her hair is braided in a neat crown 
•-.."over her head. She does not speak while 
||the testimonies are being given — well- 
M conceptualized, well-assimilated, well- 
Ifprepared, well-articulated. 

A middle-aged woman is speaking now 
iin the name of a sixteen-year-old in need 
of an abortion. Suddenly, a scream cuts 
i through the measured phrases and rever- 
,_j berates throughout the hall. "I was raped 
W$M °y m y unc ' e when I wa s six," the words 
™ s * 8 ll tumble out, "and then by my father and 
§jmy brother." Shock. The voice is still 
M screaming; it is coming from the balcony. 
Is The circle turns outward toward the audi- 
||ence. Come forward. Come on stage. Any 
Wi woman has the right to speak, it has been 
|| declared. 

f§ She is black. From the French Carib- 
Wmbean colonies. She is wearing white trou- 
||||sers. A red blouse. A multi-toned rose and 
Wm green patchwork jacket like a jester's. 
Wm Sunglasses. She walks stiffly as if treading 
j^j over splinters of broken mirror. She does 
I not bend her joints. Her arms are extend- 
ed in front of her, crooked at the elbows, 
palms out. She walks as if blinded by 


She is onstage. They give her the micro- 
phone. She does not sit in the circle. She 
stands, she crouches, she keens. Her ac- 
count tears itself out of her. Uncontrolled, 
barely coherent. This is not a testimonial. 
This is no rehearsed case history of a past- 
assimilated emotional event. This is vivid. 
This is raw. The outrage takes place be- 
fore us. 

Her account is finished; she is some- 
what more calm. Everyone is stunned. 
"Someone should embrace her," I mur- 
mur. She is beside herself. Beside herself. 
No one does. The sisters of Arcadia are 
absent. The Abortion-Contraception 
group is more pragmatic. They are gentle, 
they are respectful, they are compassion- 
ate. They are benevolent. Distant solici- 
tude. Someone guides her from the center 
of the stage. She lets herself be led, as if 
blind. She starts to descend the steps, but 
someone else indicates that she sit in a 
chair at the side of the stage, near the 
stairs crowded with people. She does. A 
blond, long-haired woman in the adjoin- 
ing chair chats with her, delicately and 
casually, with no trace of self- 

§11 >-ome terrible 

ly^** '<?>'£ *• - ■ -■ *<'■* i -'• - 






Pig? » I 


The circle turns inward again. The testi- 
monials continue. No one has panicked. 
She has finished chatting. She is sitting 
there. She gets up and joins the circle, 
midway in the outer rim, with her back to 
the audience. She is facing the very impor- 
tant person on the other side of the circle. 
She lies down on the stage, legs pointing 
to the center of the circle, diagonally op- 
posite the very important person, who 
remains still, except for discreetly brush- 
ing perspiration from her upper lip. After 
a while, she sits up again. There is tension. 
What will she do next? No one panics. No 
one. breaks. The circle remains unbroken. 

Someone, the bespectacled leader of a 
psychoanalytic-political group standing at 
the foot of the stairs has come to get her, 
quietly mounting the stage and talking to 
her compassionately. She talks, subdued, 
with the group ranged along the stairs, 
then leaves the auditorium by the side 
door. The program continues. 

Still later, she returns and mounts the 
stage again. She re-joins the circle, but it 
does not assimilate her. She is part of the 
geometric pattern of the circle, but.she has 




they experienced as their own unbearable 
powerlessness, became convinced that 
they were so good biologically that noth- 
ing they did could be bad. As Himmler 
said in 1943: 

We have exterminated a bacterium [Jews] 
because we do not want in the end to be 
infected by the bacterium and die of it. 1 
will not see so much as a small area of sep- 
sis appear here or gain a hold. Wherever it 
may form, we will cauterize it. All in all, 
we can say that we have fulfilled this most 
difficult duty for the love of our people. 
And our spirit, our soul, our character 
has not suffered injury from it. 3 

So I spoke, afraid. I said that I would 
not be associated with a movement that 
advocated the most pernicious ideology 
on the face of the earth. It was this very 
ideology of biological determinism that 
had licensed the slaughter and/or enslave- 
ment of virtually any group one could 
name, including women by men. ("Use 
their own poison against them," one wo- 
man screamed.) Anywhere one looked, it 
was this philosophy that justified atrocity. 
This was one faith that destroyed life'with 
a momentum of its own. 

Insults continued with unabated inten- 
sity as I spoke, but gradually those women 
I liked or loved, and others I did not 
know, began to question openly the phi- 
losophy they had been applauding and 
also their own acquiescence. Embraced by 
many women on my way out, I left still 
sickened, humiliated by the insults, emo- 
tionally devastated by the abuse. Time 
passes, but the violence done is not un- 
done. It never is. 

1 am told that 1 am a sexist. 1 do believe 
that the differences between the sexes are 
our most precious heritage, even though 
they make women superior in the ways 
that matter most. 

George Gilder, Sexual Suicide" 

Perhaps this female wisdom comes from 
resignation to the reality of male aggres- 
sion; more likely it is a harmonic of the 
woman's knowledge that ultimately she is 
the one who matters. As a result, while 
there are more brilliant men than brilliant 
women, there are more good women than 
good men. 

Steven Goldberg, The Inevitabilty 
of Patriarchy 1 " 

As a class (not necessarily as individuals), 
we can bear children. From this, accord- 
ing tomale-^supremacist ideology, all our 

other attributes and potentialities are de- 
rived. On the pedestal, immobile like wax- 
en statues, or in the gutter, failed icons 
mired in shit, we are exalted or degraded 
because our biological traits are what they 
are. Citing genes, genitals, DNA, pattern- 
releasing smells, biograms, hoimones, or 
whatever is in vogue, male supremacists 
make their case which is, in essence, that 
we are biologically too good, too bad, or 
too different to do anything other than 
reproduce and serve men sexually and 

The newest variations on this distress- 
ingly ancient theme center on hormones 
and DNA: men are biologically aggres- 
sive; their fetal brains were awash in an- 
drogen; their DNA, in order to perpetuate 
itself, hurls them into murder and rape; in 
women, pacifism is hormonal and addic- 
tion to birth is molecular. Since in Dar- 
winian terms (interpreted to conform to 
the narrow social self-interest of men), 
survival of the fittest means the triumph 
of the most aggressive human beings, men 
are and always will be superior to women 
in terms of their ability to protect and ex- 
tend their own authority. Therefore wom- 
en, being "weaker" (less aggressive), will 
always be at the mercy of men. That this 

j not been assimilated. She has not been 
| embraced. This group does not touch. 
| They sit in a perfect circle, spaced off 
neatly from one another. Everyone is con- 
trolled. The very important person re- 
mains motionless. 
She gets up once again and faces the au- 
j dience. She makes fluttering motions with 
% the palm of one hand over her abdomen. 
I She moves her legs stiffly like a mario- 
j nette. Someone onstage speaks to her. She 
^ leaves the stage. She exits. 

Tension is relieved. The program of 
[Two Days of Denunciation of Crimes 
j Against Women continues. The scheduled 
i round of testimonials is completed. The 
| very important person is no longer immo- 
j bile. It is her turn at the microphone. She 
| speaks stirringly, militantly, politically. 
jShe is making a political speech about 
| solidarity. 

The Two Days of Denunciation of 
^Crimes Against Women are over. The 
j weekend of solidarity in sisterhood has 
jbeen completed. Every woman has had 
| the right to speak. The convocation has 
j been a success. 

Many days later, we ask: 

"What became of . . . that sister in jes- 
ter's coat, the mirror-image of our colo- 
nized selves, the embodiment of insult and 
injury, so possessed by the passion of out- 
rage, so beside herself as to have been 
incapable of intellectualizing such passion 
into the rhetoric of the Mutualite meeting 

We are answered dispassionately, off- 
handedly, matter-of-factly: 

"She had escaped from a psychiatric 
hospital; she had been taken back." 

"Had she heard about the convocation 
of Two Days of Denunciation of Crime 
Against Women?" 


"Then, she escaped precisely to attend 
the meeting, to seek out . . .?" 

A non-commital shrug of the shoulders. 

She had been committed. She had not 
been embraced. 

We have lost another one of our com- 
rades. None of us came to her defense. 
Our sister. Our scapegoat. 

The desolate outcry has been blunted in 
its trajectory. The primal impulse reduced 
once again to the marginal, to the pathet- 
ic, to the normatively measurable. Regen- 
lilif"'™"" — " " 

eration will not be forthcoming. 

And so, the carefully phrased enumera- 
tions of crimes against women accumu- 
late; the articulations of a culture of 
women proceed . But only the first circle 
of mutuality has been described. The cen- 
ter has yet to be joined while we continue 
to forfeit our sisters to the hands of the 
professionals lest we be seared by too inti- 
mate an embrace. 

—Eleanor Hakim 





8.W- V, 












theory of the social ascendancy of the fit- 
test consigns us to eternal indignity and, 
applied to race, conjures up Hitler's iden- 
tical view of evolutionary struggle must 
not unduly trouble us. "By current theo- 
ry," writes Edward O. Wilson reassur- 
ingly in Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, 
a bible of genetic justification for slaugh- 
ter, "genocide or genosorption strongly 
favoring the aggressor need take place 
only once every few generations to direct 
evolution." 6 

I have told you the very low opinion in 
which you [women] were held by Mr. Os- 
car Browning. I have indicated what 
Napoleon once thought of you and what 
Mussolini thinks now. Then, in case , any 
of you aspire to fiction, 1 have copied out 
for your benefit the advice of the critic 
about courageously acknowledging the 
limitations of your sex. I have referred to 
Professor X and given prominence to his 
statement that women are intellectually, 
morally and physically inferior to men 
. . . and here is a final warning . . . Mr. 
John Langdon Davies warns women 
"that when children cease to be altogether 
desirable, women cease to be altogether 
necessary." I hope you will make note of 
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own 1 

(continued on page 50) 

Hey there brother man, 
Black prince come to save me 
from the white night 
this poem is for you, 
just as much as it is 
for the each and every one 
sister in the room 
who has been through 
the common woman's 
experience of rape. 
Yes my dark protector, 
king, nation builder 
I know you know about it 
I can tell by your outrage about 
•white men 
forcing Black women 
white men 

violating your sisters and queens 
You know the hatred and ugliness 
white men 

can reap and sow on a field of women 
how white men 
can take their ugliness 
and dump their garbage 
and wipe themselves 
on a woman 
and then go to the boys 
around the corner 
with a good joke about this woman 
who told no lies to him in particular 
who was maybe just day dreaming 
or smiled, 

because it's no big deal 
or because we weren't 
brought up to be rude 
and it's a nice day — 

why frown on it? 

he smiled too 

a nice-looking young man 

features lovely 

like those sculptures 

those african masks 

a nice-looking bro 

a face testifying 

to our people's beauty 

our family's moral fiber 

hell: not every dude out there 

is asking for a nickel 

or some attention, 

some way not to look at himself, 

some hole to hide in. 

Being full grown means 

letting go of small comforts 

means turning loose 

the short-term reliefs 

that used to tide you over 

until the next wad is shot 

and your personal load of sticky stuff 

dropped into someone else's lap, 

is made part of someone else's 

trial by fire 

in order for you 

not to have to face yourself. 

You can be lost on high 

with the vision 

of some woman under a gun 

on her knees to you, 

but understand this: 

in time temporary reliefs 

reach the point of diminishing returns 

and the bitch will turn around 

for a big pay back. 

On this Saturady night double bill 

will be your self-respect, 

your two feet, 

your chance to stand tall, 

all those things you can never own. 

You'll be the one 

fucked between your legs 

in your mouth, 

up your ass 

all in your head 

every place you can be fucked 

and then you can find yourself 

left alone 

and bleeding and violated and outraged 

for something you lost, 

because you were playing 

and abusing yourself, 

spilling rotten wine and sowing shit 

you will be seeing very clearly 

two balls and a dick 

that you will now handle with care 

because some once polite lady 

will turn her head away 

and you pulling the trigger 

will shoot yourself off, 

wham bam, like a man. 

-Donna Allegra Simms 







first course 

the Dark Lady hacks 

at an oyster shell 

she can't find 

the weak spot where the knife 

slides in like a careless remark 

forcing it open, exposing 

its vulnerable flesh 

I show her how 

the oyster quivers 

like an opal about to cry 

in reply she sinks her teeth into its succulence 

second course 

the roast, fragrant with herbs 

cedes tenderly 

I carve in the kitchen 

safe from her memory: 

brown edges, bleeding inside 

— her cunt 

open to my hunger 

afterwards I denied it 

as she did, wanted 

no more a dead animal 

cutting up a dead animal 

to feed a dead love 

no bread left to break 

together, and only on apricot 

in the sauce I put it 

guiltily on her plate 

third course 

chilled green salad 
comes as a relief 

fourth course 

the Camembert, overripe 


like an armpit 

I refuse 

she leaves the rind 

fifth course 

imitation Yule log, complete 

with chocolate bark and meringue mushrooms 

bitter taste of rum 

we offer each other another slice, 

sipping champagne 

her eyes 


over the rim of her glass 

' MP 






already I know 
I'm going to be sick 

-Jacqueline Lapidus 

W m 










■' iHBi 

lillt v >''; 

: I. 


£■ i 

''Silt-Mi! ' '^^''^^^vi ii-;> 

In considering male intellectual and sci- 
entific argumentation in conjunction with 
male history, one is forced to conclude 
that men as a class are moral cretins. The 
vital question is: are we to accept their 
world view of a moral polarity that is bio- 
logically fixed, genetically or hormonally 
or genitally (or whatever organ or secre- 
tion or molecular particle they scapegoat 
next) absolute; or does our own historical 
experience of social deprivation and injus- 
tice teach us that to be free in a just world 
we will have to destroy the power, the 
dignity, the efficacy of this one idea above 
all others? 

Recently, more and more feminists 
have been advocating social, spiritual, and 
mythological models that are female su- 
premacist and/or matriarchal. To me, this 
advocacy signifies a basic conformity to 
the tenets of biological determinism that 
underpin the male social system. Pulled 
toward an ideology based on the moral 
and social significance of a distinct female 
biology because of its emotional and 
philosophical familiarity, drawn to the 
spiritual dignity inherent in a "female 
principle" (essentially as defined by men), 
of course unable to abandon by will or 
impulse a lifelong and centuries-old com- 
mitment to childbearing as the female cre- 
ative act, women have increasingly tried to 
transform the very ideology that has 
enslaved us into a dynamic, religious, psy- 
chologically compelling celebration of fe- 
male biological potential. This attempted 
transformation may have survival value- 
that is, the worship of our procreative 
capacity as power may temporarily stay 
the male-supremacist hand that cradles 
the test tube. But the price we pay is that 


■■■■ ■" ; ^^^^^^^^^S] 

we become carriers of the disease we must 
cure. It is no accident that in the ancient 
matriarchies men were castrated, sacri- 
ficially slaughtered, and excluded from 
public forms of power; nor is it an acci- 
dent that some female supremacists now 
believe men to be a distinct and inferior 
species or race. Wherever power is acces- 
sible or bodily integrity honored on the 
basis of biological attribute, systematized 
cruelty permeates the society and murder 
and mutilation contaminate it. We will 
not be different. 

It is shamefully easy for us to enjoy our 
own fantasies of biological omnipotence 
while despising men for enjoying the 
reality of theirs. And it is dangerous — 
because genocide begins, however im- 
probably, in the conviction that classes of 
biological distinction indisputably sanc- 
tion social and political discrimination. 
We, who have been devastated by the con- 
crete consequences of this idea, still want 
to put our faith in it. Nothing offers more 
proof — sad, irrefutable proof — that we 
are more like men than either they or we 
care to believe. 

— Andrea Dworkin 


1. Adolf Hitler, Mein KampJ, trans. Ralph Manheim 
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, Sentry 
Edition, 1962), p. 296. 

2. Ibid., p. 442. 

3. Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham (eds.), 
Documents on Nazism 1919-1945 (New York: The 
Viking Press, 1975), p. 493. 

4. George Gilder, Sexual Suicide (New York: Quad- 
rangle, 1973), p. v. 

5. Steven Goldberg, The Inevitability of Patriarchy 
(New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 
1973), p. 228. 

6. Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New 
Synthesis (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Har- 
vard University Press, 1975), p. 573. 

7. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (New 
York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1957), pp. 

©1978 Andrea Dworkin 

(MARCH 8, 1972— ROME, ITALY) 

I arrived at the piazza in time to catch the tail end of the march. Thousands of 
women filled the main street leading from the square. The bulk of the demon- 
strators moved together in uneven rows flanked by a human cordon of girls, 
arms straining and pulling Sprigs of mimosa were everywhere, jammed into 
buttonholes, tucked in amongst curls or waving in hands. The younger women 
were having a wonderful time: their bodies swayed in unison to a chant and 
they ended each slogan with a laugh; arms linked or hand in hand, their heads 
bobbed together, touched gently, then separated only to come together again. 
To the right of me, a girl forming part of the security line drew my attention. 
She stood perpendicular to the marching women, her arms pulled out to each 
side of her, legs apart, feet planted firmly, head thrown back in throaty laugh- 
ter. Although she couldn't have been more than 16 or 17, her bosom was full 
under a white ruffled blouse. Her blue denim skirt was stretched to a tight "A" 
and below it striped stockings alternated bright bands of color down her legs to 
where a pair of thick socks were turned down above heavy brown suede hiking 
shoes. She was ludicrous, unspeakably lovely and absolutely invincible because 
she didn't know defeat. A confusion of ringlets covered her head and she an- 
swered my stare with a spontaneous flash of teeth. 

I was beginning to feel better. I started to move with the other women, stay- 
ing for a few minutes with each different group, then quickening my pace to 
catch up with the next one and falling into step again. I had felt tired, dragged 
down, but now my body began to respond to the energy. I joined in the shout- 
ing, this time to the men looking on from the sidelines, the men watching us, 
hardly speaking to each other. Their faces were tight, controlled— some seri- 
ous, others slightly mocking, still others confused, displeased, angry? What 
was there that connected them and made them seem all of a piece? A rigidity 
perhaps, nothing spontaneous or natural. I sensed their fear and turned away. 

Coming into Piazza del Gesu we all yelled out, "Si, si, si, abortiamo la 
D.C.!' h and emotion grew in us at the image of the little grey men in their 
colorless offices, playing their humorless games, controlling, deciding behind 
the long windows of the old palazzo. Suddenly ranks closed against an elderly 
man who was trying to cut through the march: in the face of such unanimity he 
gave up and stepped back with a good-natured sigh. Further along there were 
cries of "no smoking— no smoking" and another man, protesting loudly that 
he only wanted to get to the tobacco shop on the other side of the street, was 
pushed back by a sea of female bodies. This was that rare moment when being a 
woman was all that was required for immediate acceptance and complete free- 
dom of movement. Yet to my amazement I saw a young couple hurrying 
through, the woman's head down as though she wanted to pass unnoticed and 
the man's arm protective around her, shielding her, his other hand raised to 
ward off attack. How blatantly inappropriate and yet how automatic their age- 
old reactions. Ahead of me a short-haired woman walking with a child paused 
to speak to a youngish man who had approached within a foot of the demon- 
strators, girlfriend in tow. In a pleasant voice she instructed him to either go 
around the back end of the march or wait until everyone had passed. He stood 
stiff and unblinking. She repeated what she'd said in the same tone. After a 
moment's silence, the response came out low and dry, "Did I ask you 

(continued on page 53) 


)id including both 

not give out your rumbcr 
c!y. When in doubt get the r 
other person and <all him. 

by the Ccntr 
area.) Whei 
ahead for nn 

»ind. (The jogging path " 

■ 10 tutn around. 

v a poiicc whistle. Have 
reaming is difficult, yo 
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!. followed, make sure 
:le or available weapons read; 

v York Citv 

have the make 

void including both yo 
imbcr where stranger 

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guishers and exits Th ll ^l* 
laying in unfamiliar ' l ' si '~V 

"nfamilia, a breath to bin* 


crazy. 1 
i a pencil 
r breath < 

it yourself op 
telephone. Yp 
even the F.| 
always, a "" 

not indicate | 
or will n< 

||:r one notch (liold in 
ggr paper clip) so the 
g|vi!d noises and drive 
italso tap the phone 
llnto the receiver with 
||:e whistle, 
pi'sona! information 
0>rs to a stranger on 
|g|ecdn't answer any* 
|||c on guard— this is 
Ml sounds. 

^stranger when 
if you arc In 

|§|' mistake, find 
'ited. Do not ■ 

^immcdiatelv a 
cr. Find 

le game here 
pathy or help 
ic you for the] 

nple, do so bri< 

ing the 

be a ploy to dej 

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■wing story illus| 

lis point. 

uilt is used to 

is, especially aft 

:d. For example, 

came around io 

ning injuries ani 

d lo borrow _______ 

to come in to show his injury 
c people tend to draw together after 
ccurrence such as a fire, such con men 
women can make you feel guilty for 
helping a "neighbor." If you do not 
* the person, do not heln in a w»u 
puis yoi 

Ijcss of the 

|t[ be wary of ci 
I A brief quest: 
ii conversation 
ithoui attract 



weak door oftc'ri^ °, ,r < 

or 2 good one rai|, cr ,l" ' 1 " 

important ihat you **■ 

.should be Ht0 
1 >'°"r Place, Siro 

"Could a woman ever successfully plead self-def 
attack? "No, because the guy's not trying to kill he"* 
time. [For her] to get off , the guy will have to do herb ,, 
isn't doing her bodily harm. ..I told [the jurors] that uik 

raping a woman than I did before." —Samuel Rfo 
on her jury, to reporter Nan BHtman. 

it you are wan 
light, do not c: 
anccd position 

meet someone ■ 

Make sure you h 


■n at all possi 
iide. Things 
Obviously w; 
to all types t 
is still very d 

It is best to wo 
others. Tor cxa 
range to have s. 
accompany yo 
Don't feel apo 
possible make 
to sec each oil 

way to 


iigcryou. Do not 

w :rson. but direct 

H||help (storefront 

hospital). The 

HHlhc importance j ucn 

Recess to apart- 

j ! isaster has oc- 

£a fire, one pcr- 

York building 

Park and Street 

If you have a dog, t 

Avoid bushes and o 

If being followed by : 

be aware of po ■ )lc dangers. 

seemed very 
;..:>■ raped — til 

" ^3^J_____^^W^'^.'- **! 

'■ -■■" ■•■w_WBkw$Bffi_&ih 


ig that yot 
g and war 
g with yoi 

"riend there 

"Other people think they know why I do the things I do. One psychiatrist I talked with 
told me that I rape women because I fear them and cannot adequately cope with the 
games they play. Another said that I am incapable of having normal sexual relationships 
because I view sex as nothing more than an energy release and not as a means of 
expressing/sharing my love for a particular woman. Another put forth the theory that I 
used rape to strike back at my mother. 

"There's truth in what they say. I often quote them when the need arises 
justify/rationalize my behavior. But there's a thing which most people, including t 
psychiatrists, overlook. The main reason why I do the things I do is that I find ra 
enormously stimulating and very exciting. 

"It's fun." 

reel and sec what happens, aiming injuries and asking for help. ; 
i not walk around looking ob- .ked to borrow a car to go to the hospital 
ul; people looking for victims id to come in to show his injury. Bc- 
c vibrations. mse people lend to draw together after 

.,-„ ---■ ui,. ... i occurrence such as a fire, such con men 

make you feel guilty for 

; imporiaif| 
se quicklJT 

"Neighbor." If you do n 

very best defense 

Below are suggcstio 
tack. They are dra 

i from women's 

you must 
:r possible 

your pockets. W 

ihcy are, womei 
corner ate subjc 
not dangerous, i 

;t all possible, do noi 

:. Things being whai 

.iously wailing on a 

io all lypes of abuse. 

very degrading 

i bus or subway. Do j 

iflllCfiiariliicnmw-msi.,,. . 

Never fall asleep in the park unless a , 
icct a strange man-when- r riend is wilh you who is awa j; c . 
arrange to meet in a public ' 

tee like a restaurant, rather than in your If >' ou arc for anv reason leaving the park 
me. when it is deserted, be careful around ( 

exits. That's where people lie in wait, j 
ways check the elevator mirror before Know wllcfc exitSi ca!] boxes _ and popu . 
ting into the elevator. Never get on an ]a[cc | arcas arc . : 

vat or that is going to or coming from 
: basement. Do not get on an elevator Transportation 
:li a stranger and do not rely on stereo- Look aiert while C 
ics of who is dangerous. Stand near the no[ f a || asleep, 
ttons (to stay in control) with your back 

a wall. If there is trouble or the possibi- If V ou arc bcin £ hassled and others are 
' of trouble, and the elevator has an around, speak up. People may look at you 
rm button, press it. Do not. however, likc V 0[i ' T * craz >"' bul thal ' s °- K - ° flcn 
:ss the type of emergency button which men W !o find oul whe « v ° u ' re aI - how 
ps the elevator. Also press floor but- nieek you arc, etc. Respond quickly. They 
is and get off on the nearest floor. If arc lookin 8 for ,he viclim mtntaliiy. Most 
lowed off. yell FIRE! It is difficult to of us arc Icrrified of mak,n « scencs ' Gcl 
use to get on an elevaior if someone is used I0 "■ Drawing attention to yourself 
»und-do it anyway: "forget" some- cou,d P fcvcm ,roublc - 
ng and hesitate until they arc goi 
Mle if you can. In some sit; 
>■ be better to walk up thi 

s also difficult to 
.cc to a stranger bchi 
era building. It isdiffii 
;i. Many womei 

It is best to work out transportation will' 
others. For example, when at a party, ar 
range to have someone (male or female) u: 
accompany you home or io a bus stop 
Don'l feel apologetic about it. Wlicnevci 
possible make an agreement with friend; 
to see each other home or to the 
means of transportation. Do not feel fool- 
ish accepting people's offers to check io 
make sure you got home. 

raped by men they 
know slighily who offer them rides home, 
then come up for coffee, eic. You don'l 
close yourself off completely, but 
c of possible dangers. It is best not 
> accept a ride from a man you hardly 
mr honn 
v him better first. 
jlc men often seemed very trustworthy 
:i ihcy raped— th 

"The message to women'and girls in this era of violence must be to 
as not to expose themselves to the dangers of rape. If we 
precautionary suggestions appearing with great regularity in magazine uad 
specially-designed "safety" movies, we would soon find ourselves dy 
We would be effectively paralyzed, and rape would have served Its 

od protection 
ir neighbors, , 
ssurc for im 
i to get to km, 
>plc arc gener 
se they know 

„ ' A. 

Ke sure your . 

ly block the view. (Bamboo shades, 
example, can be seen through.) Be 
ire of how much people can see in your 
dows and remember that when a light 
rial night, you are visible to those out- 

ing. Attackers may 

doors locked when dri 

jump in at red lights. 

If you are driving and another car signals 

for help, go to a phone and call for help- 

Be aware of places that attackers might 
hide in your building. 

Windows should have locks. The most 
vulnerable windows are those on the first 

'your address to stranger 
'tame with your address it 

Get to know some neighbors and whicl 
ones you can trust in an emergency (an 
type of emergency.) If possible, arrange 
signal lo indicate trouble. 

/m nigm, stay unaer 
lights. Do not go home; the attacker can 
follow you into your house. Head toward 
the nearest lighted place. If you run, run 
quickly and YELL as you run. It is always 
best to know where you are running, 
therefore, think of a "safe" spot as ades- 

If there is no shelter near, it is best to put 
on a show of confidence and confront the 
person. If you show confidence, they may 
desist or choose an easier victim. If they 
arc going to attack, it is easier to resist 
face-on than to let them attack from the 
rear. And if they mean you no harm, you 
will find out that much sooner. You may 

l pui your 
—use only first i 

e on mailbox or 
r a man's 

Never leave clues in the form of notes as 
io whether you'll be home alone, when 
you'll be coming, etc. If you n 
note, write in code an don't indicate the 
a part m 

Do not give out your address to Strang" 5 
or put your full name with your address m 
ads, notices, etc. 

Gel to know some neighbors and which 
ones you can trust in an emergency (any 
type of emergency.) If possible, arrange a 
signal to indicate trouble. 

. .the fa 

^ "ft 

1 ^Atttd 

-4 >W 

' his u j ~f % 
ar a Nrte^* 

c 'itia n „_;;'• i 
' u . *" ic*""' 


fe ns«« l3 in 

II h 

•^Quotes collected by the Kitty Genovese 
;» Project. 

n during a rape 

(0 gjve her a good 
'^gagirla screw 
hjhave less fear of 

Toll this to [In- mini ahead 
women have had the expe- 
naii ihcn not showina up. 

Rhone, i ^ a mst Inez Garcia 

ve o 
Ives doMo, 


'"wl rat 
ff «lucnl!v 

Once you arc reasonably sure yoi. are 
being followed there arc several thing. , .iu 
can do. Walk near the curb away from 
buildings and alleys. If ilicre is traffic 
about, walk in the middle of the street to 
attract attention. If the street is one-way. 
go against the traffic. At night, slay under 
lights. Do nor go home; the attacker can 

;<£* Excerpted from Self-Defense for Women 
* — Nadia Telsey and Linda Maslanko with 
"*•'■ the help of The Womens Martial Arts 
*»«, Union 

■-.J ©Copyright 1974 by The Womens Martial Arts Union 

Suddenly, off to one side, just outside the march in the narrow open strip in 
front of the stationary onlookers, a commotion of some sort caught my eye. I 
saw a group of girls several deep, leaning toward someone at the edge of the 
crowd. The pushing came from the ones in the back and those caught in the 
crunch in the middle lifted up their faces as though to breathe better and they 
were laughing and shouting complaints. Another "maschio" (male?) who had 
tried unsuccessfully to invade the women's act, I thought with a chuckle. Then 
my eyes found the man. He was standing up straight just past the leaning girls 
and had somehow managed to put about a foot of space between him and 
them. He was dressed in a dark suit and had turned to face the women. Bor- 
dered by close-cropped hair, his face was a mask of rage. His shoulders were 
rigid and jerked with each lunge of his fists. They leapt out one after the other, 
again and again. I heard the dull thud of contact as his punches connected with 
the young faces pressed so close together in front of him. He was consciously in 
control, drawing in his fists, taking aim in a split second, striking again, his 
shoulders absorbing the shock as he followed through, a perfect machine of 

I stopped, rooted to the spot. Staring in horror at the scene, I felt my legs get 
weak, felt the uselessness of my two limp arms. My face seemed to ache with 
every punch and the nausea starting in my stomach moved in ever-widening 
circles over my body. The bodies of the girls in front fell back with the blows 
only to be carried forward again from behind. Immobilized, frozen, only my 
brain pleaded for someone to take action. By this time, other women were join- 
ing in at the back and I heard a mature female voice shout out instructions to 
those in front to kick. A flurry of feet went out, flailing the air. When I looked 
past them the man was gone. There was confusion among the women and 
someone cried out in disappointment, "You mean no one was able to get 
him?" Then someone moaned and I saw a young girl, her face pale against her 
long brown hair, swoon as several pairs of arms went out to buoy her up. There 
was pain on her upturned face and blood trickled down from each side of her 
nose. It was then that I noticed the ominous silence around me. There was no 
sound, no movement in the crowd. But these were men too, men who knew 
how to punch, men who could have stopped the machine of aggression by 
force. A bearded young man looked over at the group of girls, now subdued, 
and nodding grimly toward the bar behind him, said in a quiet voice, "The bar 
. . . take her to the bar." Inside the march, the last group of women was strid- 
ing by and their words resounded in my empty head like a bad joke: 

"Come mai, come mai, 
Nei non ; decidiamo mai, 
D'ora in poi, d'ora in poi 
Decidiamo solo noi!" 2 

-Linda Lombardo 


"Yes! Yes! Yes! Let's abort the Christian Democrats!" A reference to the ruling government party With head- 
quarters in that square, responsible for blocking passage of a law to legalize abortion last June, 1977. 

How is it, how is it, 
We never get to decide, 
From now on, from now on, 
We'll be the only ones to decide!" 

IPillf^i^ lllilllllP 

<* : .|,^ 

" : -*Lfe 

We hope that by describing our process, 
we may contribute to, as we have drawn 
from, the experience of others in working 
together collectively. The issue has taken 
one year to construct. The group has 
changed several times over this year. Sev- 
eral women participated for a time and 
then left for various reasons from person- 
al to political. The seven of us who have 
been working on this issue for the last six 
months came together as near strangers 
(all but two) to work together intimately. 
The magazine would not have been pro- 
duced by this particular group of women 
had not the working method been collec- 
tive. Each of us believes that working col- 
lectively is not only a personal need but 
also a conscious decision to participate in 
the building of a new social order. 

We are, as all issues have been, autono- 
mous from the Heresies Collective. The 
theme of our issue, Women and Violence, 
was originally proposed by AFWIC (Ac- 
tion for Women in Chile). 

After meeting weekly for several 
months, we sent out over 1,000 flyers with 
a long list of possibilities to suggest the 
breadth of the issue. In an effort to reach 
many different women, we collected 
names and addresses from all possible 
sources, including publications, individu- 
als and community groups. In response to 
eight months of solicitation, we received 
well over 500 submissions. All material 
went through the same process. Each 
piece was read by everyone, commented 
on, then discussed and voted on as many 
as three times. Voting was usually by ma- 
jority decision, but we made room for 
strong pro or con opinions on any piece. 
As a collective we wanted to stimulate 
controversy and avoid "the lowest com- 
mon denominator" method of agreement. 
With few exceptions, we read and decided 
upon the material sent to us "blind" (hav- 
ing taped over the names of the authors). 
For the most part, somewhat detailed re- 
jection letters accompanied returned man- 
uscripts in an effort to share both our 
biases and our thoughts. 

The Log 

We made use of several ideas that we had 
brought from other collective experiences. 
One of these was the strike log, so named 
after its use by workers during a strike. In 
this big hardcover book we kept all the 
minutes of the meetings, making possible 
easy consultation by absent members as . 
well as information recall. We also in- 
cluded (through drawings, notes, poems, 
exclamations, dialogues) our own individ- 
ual and/or group thoughts, feelings and 
arguments about what was going on. The 
first page of the strike log reads: "the log. 
recording our process, then making it 
available . . . sharing, the process: a 
marking we/our herstory. we are history, 
an effort to minimize endlessly reinvent- 
ing the wheel." Much of what follows is 
taken from the log. 

The Seven of Us 

"Understanding an individual's possible 
function in a collective: We are trying to 
unify, but we all seem to be operating un- 
der different ideologies; in order to have 
no delusions of unification, no false soli- 
darity, our differences should be made 

We are all under 35 years old, one of us is 
married, we are all white; all of us de- 
scribe ourselves as feminists; our class 
backgrounds range from working class to 
upper middle class; two women are lesbi- 
ans (and lovers); one is English; we have 
among us a carpenter, a vegetarian, a rape 
counselor/advocate, a book designer, an 
ex-whore, a union organizer, an anthro- 
pologist, an artist, a photographer, a per- 
former, rape victims, a dialectician, a 
women's shelter worker, a former abused 

One of us is writing a book, one of us 
wears only black and white clothes; none 
of us believe in a god or goddess; most of 
us have t.v.'s; none of us carry a weapon 
all of the time. 

/ know that working on this issue has 
made me violent, much more violent, that 
in public and in private now, my urge to 
strike out and my striking out has in- 
creased, my response to feeling trapped by 
angry words, to an insult on the street, to 
rudeness or hostility, is to strike out. now 
more than ever, as all women, I have ex- 
perienced violence since childhood: physi- 
cal, psychological, spiritual, now my own 
violence is literally almost always just a 
hair's breath from actualization. 

if our group had not been as strong as it 
was, I am not sure that this issue would 
have come out. or I'm not sure I would 
have been working on it when it was fin- 
ished, we expressed a lot of our anger, at 
each other and at things outside, at times 
a confusion of the two. 

"The pitch of our interaction is height- 
ened by the timebomb we are working 
with — the material." 

"There is this odd situation where the 
homophobia in the group is hidden, pas- 
sive, almost invisible (though certainly not 
absent) and the lesbian assumption 
(though we've always been a minority) is 
open, blatant, right out there." 

"As a group and as individuals, we need 
to work on finding ways to acknowledge 
and assimilate the individual anger/s that 
surface as a necessary by-product of our 
group work, as part of the process ... to 
encompass individual differences." 


We used the process of criticism/self-criti- 
cism. At times it was more an empty ritual 
but at times it gave us the room to express 
and confront our anger, fear and affec- 
tion. Important to our productive use of 
C/SC was (1). to not interrupt, (2). to 
focus our responses to the process of the 
meeting and not the decisions. The guide- 
lines we agreed to were the following: 

1 . to listen to negative and positive criti- 
cism as one person's perspective and 
not the whole truth. 

2. to say and not hold negative criticism. 

3. to accept positive criticism and appre- 

4. to give and ask for support when we 
want it. 

5. to check out assumptions or hunches 
with the people we have them about. 

6. to take responsibility for active par- 
ticipation as well as unconscious 

7. that to apologize continually for 
one's own ideas and actions makes it 
very difficult for others to extend any 
criticism of those ideas or actions. • 

8. not to consider ourselves outside of 
group decisions or above a particular 


"The authority of the group equals the 
authority of another boss." 

"I feel isolated and manipulated. Our dy- 
namics lack respect for each other." 

"We haven't made enough room for each 
other's particular experiences. A mistake? 
Are we missing potential contributions 
from each other's experiences?" 

"I dislike the group capacity for endless 

"I'm terrified by all this." 

"After a discussion I don't know if my 
views have been compromised or 

"We are not living in a Utopia; our collec- 
tive has not been idyllic. To say it was like 
a family is to consider all the ups and 
downs that 'family' means in this society: 
the battles for recognition, respect/self- 
respect; the power struggles; the typecast- 
ing of individuals; the manipulation 
through affection extended and with- 
drawn; the support and nonsupport; the 
struggle to have our own individual per- 
ceptions and sometimes crazinesses con- 
firmed by the group; the struggle against 
alienation, loneliness." 

"A collective does not consist of certain 
members who tell others the criteria for 
valuing members. That's why I'm 

"Well, what is the 'comradely' way to be 

Our Goal 

"That the focus of the issue should not be 
simply a documentation of violence done 
to and endured by women; nor an exhibi- 
tion space for individuals to publish their 
artwork; nor simply a collection of indi- 
vidual solutions to violence; but should 
contribute to the momentum of women 
actively considering their power to affect 
radical change." 

Our Criteria for Material Selection 

1 Where does this 
lead? Towards r)es 
tion? analysis? I 

2 Is this piece f 
Does it perpetuat 
cepts embodied In 
hierarchies, trad 
gender definition 

3 Does this piece 
potential or actu 
in its assumption 

pair? ac-i 

eminist? : 
e con- 

s, etc? 

al racism 

l± Does the. work; contain 
class biases that go un- 
challenged,? '-' ; :' 

f? Does thii.- piece streng- 
then women? '■'■-'Mrjh info., 
confrontation or "(^conci- 

■."6 Is the context of tl r» 
work radical or reformist 
in terms of the Issue as a 
whole? Do the assumptions 
;and/or premises challenge 
;or support the prevalent 
sass./prem. of the society? 

7 The material should re- 
present the wide sp°ctr\uu 
of women's experiences... 

.class, race, sexual pref- 
erence, culture and r.1-"-- 
'cumstance « 

8 The material should be 
'.widely accessible. 

■to- $w mil jf lade ^ 
lift. W/4 QMufM 

I hated Marty because she demanded so 
much attention and because she acted so 
hostile towards the guys I brought home. 
Katy pissed me off because she took days 
and sometimes weeks and months to de- 
cide to throw out an article all the rest of 
us discarded immediately. Janet was stub- 
born stubborn stubborn. Claire was a very" 
complicated relationship. AMR I tended 
to dismiss because she fidgeted and got 
bored very quickly. The only, one I 
haven't gotten mad at yet, and she's gone 
off to Italy, is Paula, who I can't afford 

Yet I'd climb the highest mountain and 
swim the deepest ocean and, as a benign 
vegetable of long standing, even cat a 
man-burger if they asked me to, that's 
how strong my love is and how intense all 
this has been. 

Funny what a year with women can do 
to you . . . 

Funny how the family follows you ev- 
erywhere . . . 


"The weakest part of the issue so far is 
too little a sense of strength coming from 
women to resist." 


"I think that a weakness of the analysis is 
that it indicts individual men. Patriarchy 
is the enemy. Not men." 

'.'There should be pieces that are antimale 
because that reflects the reality of 
women's outrage. I don't care if there is 
gore and blood in the pieces. What's 
wrong with that? It is taboo." 

"Manhating doesn't lead anywhere. If we 
see violence as perpetuated by the working 
class, this is exactly how the ruling class 
wants it to be seen. Men are not the nat- 
ural enemy of women . . . I am interested 
in: the jway that the group gives a dialec- 
tical pull on my ideas." 

"Gender caiej'ories appear universal and 
define masculinit} and ti-mininity. How 
do we underhand the v>i'\s in which this 
it'i-ves capitalism? or any economic 

"The problem of voicing resistance with- 
out supporting social systems, without of- 
fering individual solutions to complex 
social problems. Kill criminals rather than 
abolish the causes of crime, kill rapists 
rather than rearrange the sexual power 

"If we cannot offer serious solutions to 
these social problems I feel it would be 
better to be descriptive rather than pre- 


;;, Our budget was established and provided 
by s the Heresies Collective. 6,000 issues 
were printed. From the beginning we lim- 
ited our expenses so we could make free 
issues available to -women in prisons and 
•mental institutions. '"*• 

Postage, telephone, copying 

materials, misc. 








Contributor's payment 




Cover paper <£ printing 



At kaM fi.Oflt) 1 ihor 'kuii* (<ippro\ 
125/wk.) Iijw Kvn donated h\ (com 
bined) members of the editorial collective 
over the last ye>u I'ntold noiu*. Iu\l Klii 
donated by contra? 

A very flexible hand 


Lb OFFh 

CONTENTS. ■ * , 





New York 
Political criminals (female). — Not even the purest 
political crime, that which springs from passion, is 
exempt trom the law which we have laid down. In 
the skull of Charlotte Corday herself, after a rapid 
inspection, I affirmed the presence of an extra- 
ordinary ""™ K <:"- <->*" onnmaiipc and thu opinion is 
' Skull of Charlotte Coruay. — (Fig. 2.) 

The cheek-bones are prominent in 3p per cent, of 
normal women, in r8 per cent, of criminals, and in 

■ (J . 289 









1 1- 

•0 1 

. c ( 

I : w 

■■ 1 H 

3 ' 



Thin lips 

Virile physiognomy 
Mongolian physiognomy 
Cranial depressions 

Diasihema of teeth . . ' . . 

Sessile ear 

Flattened nose 

Crooked nose 

Facial asymmetry 
Receding forehead .. 

Enormous jaw 

I'rominem cheek-bones .. 


/ b 



— 1 





4-5 i 

J 5' a 

7 '4 








4 5 ! 

10 7 
















22 72 1 















18 rS 1 









-fO'9 I 


44 "4 








10-3 i 


40 7 








ivo ; 














22 '2 



i 4 '8 






7 4 






22 '2 

: a Z 

'Ji 1^. 

■3 z 

: - 

c £ 

■ m n 



Negro Woman. 

Red Indian Woman. 

where we have the portraits of Red Indian and Negro 
I - beauties, whom it is difficult to recognise for women, 
J , so huge are their jaws and cheek-bones, so hard and 
' •' coarse their features. And the same is often the case 

in their crania and brains. 

The criminal being only a reversion to the primitive 

out of revenge ; pretended to have done it while 
drunk. Very ferocious countenance, asymmetrical, 
with enormous ears and jaws. Sullen, very black 
eyes, fair hair, diasthema of the incisors, narrow arch 
of palate. Type. 

in Messalina, who, all flattered though she was by 
contemporary writers, yet offers many of the features 
of the criminal and born prostitute— having a low 
forehead, very thick, wavy hair, and a heavy jaw. 
•<Ho.Jvaged 36. Of a rich family, with an epileptic 
mother, and a father addicted to alcohol. She 
poisoned her husband with arsenic after sixteen years 
of married life. Nose hollowed out and club-shaped, 
large jaws and ears, squint eyes, weak reflex action 
of left patella. She confessed nothing. Cha 
resolute and devout. Type. 

Nos. 12 and 13 are German women, whose vertical 
wrinkles and thin lips seem to me to maxk the' 
as thieves. 

bsSSSsSSSs " 


;"No7~$,yged 44 Strangled her husband 
^ ment"~with her lover, and threw him 
She denied her crime. Hollowed-oflt 
hair, deep-set eyes, big jaw. Demi-type. 

The French women, however, are in 
typical and uglier, and here I would rem 
more refined a nation is, the further do 
differ from the average. It is, for inst 
'.. No. 3^ aged 21. Was married against h 
ill-treated by her husband, whom she killed, 
night altercation, with a hatchet while he slept. 
In her we find only a demi-type. Her ears 
out, she has big jaws and cheek-bones, and very 
hair, besides other anomalies which do not 
the photograph, such as gigantic canine teeth 
dwarf incisors. 

'VNor^aged 60. Was constantly ill-treated 
her husband, whom she finally joined with her son m 
strangling, hanging him afterwards so as to favou 1 
the idea of suicide. 

Here again we have asymmetry of the face, breadt 

:>f ja.w, enormous frontal sinuses, nunricrouswrinlcles 



. J. 



Nearly a decade after the birth of the con- 
temporary feminist movement — a decade 
marked by affirmative action legislation, 
the legalization of abortion, the mass 
availability of birth control, and the un- 
precedented entrance of women into the 
heretofore exclusively male domains of 
sports, medicine, law, the military and 
politics — a decade in which the possi- 
bilities for women and their liberation 
appeared nearly limitless — the battered 
woman stepped out of the family closet, a 
grim reminder that the oppression of 
women in its most brutal and direct form 
remained firmly intact. Beginning in 1975 
with the opening of the first shelters for 
battered women in America 1 and con- 
tinuing to the present, the issue of wife 
beating has received extensive press and 
media coverage: books, plays, papers and 
articles have been written on the subject; 
additional shelters have been opened; hot- 
lines, outreach and counseling programs 
have been implemented; and research has 
been initiated into the causes and effects 
of what has come to be known as the bat- 
tered wife syndrome. It seems to me, how- 
ever, that much of the work being done on 
the issue, specifically in the area of re- 
search, suffers from serious methodologi- 
cal misconceptions. 

Because the plight of the battered 
woman has only recently emerged in the 
public eye, there is a tendency to view the 
abuse of women as uniquely the problem 
of contemporary society. Much of the re- 
search being conducted in the area tends 
to perpetuate this view. For example, 
studies have been published that attempt 
to relate wife abuse to social phenomena 
such as drug addiction, alcoholism and 
unemployment. I understand there is a 
study now being conducted that draws a 
relationship between the rise of the wom- 
en's liberation movement and wife abuse. 
In addition, there has been a tendency for 
researchers to "psychologize" the prob- 
lem, to seek an explanation for the bat- 
tering of women in the psychological 
makeup of the individuals involved. 
Explanations are put forth that men beat 
their wives because they feel insecure, 
intimidated or inadequate; or, on the 
other hand, because the women beaten are 
in reality masochistic provocateurs. 

Both these approaches, it seems to me, 
serve to obscure rather than illuminate the 
problem. By seeking the causes of wife 
abuse solely in the context of contempo- 
rary capitalist society, we lose sight of the 
fact that women have been physically 
abused in virtually every culture since the 
dawn of civilization. The abuse of women 
is, ultimately, a problem that emerges 
from the history of Man. Thus research 
on (and service for) wife abuse functions 
as ideology, that is to say it obscures and 
perpetuates wife abuse, first, by dealing 
with battering as an issue separate and 
apart from rather than internally related 
and integral to the totality of woman's 
oppression and, second, by failing to per- 
ceive this oppression in its historical con- 
text. The history of women has been a 
history of oppression, and this oppression 
has been both sustained and punctuated 
by force and violence. 

Ruby Rohrlich-Leavitt, speaking at the 
Tribunal on Crimes Against Women held 
at Columbia University in April 1976, 
pointed out that the first known written 
laws, dating approximately to 2500 B.C., 
decreed that a woman who was verbally 
abusive to her husband was to have her 

name engraved on a brick which would 
then be used to bash out her teeth. 2 

While the status of women in early 
history remains all but hidden to us and, 
as a result, the subject of much conjecture 
and debate, by the time of the Greeks we 
are able to get a much more accurate view 
of what women's lives were like. Among 
the early Greeks, Aristotle and others 
argued on the natural inferiority of wom- 
en and, therefore, the natural right of the 
male to rule the female. As Bullough 
states, "Greek literature from the poets to 
the playwrights was essentially misogy- 
nistic." 3 Archilochus called women the 
"greatest Evil God has ever created," 4 
and Euripides argued that women "ought 
to be silent, ought not to argue with men, 
ought not to speak first, and ought not to 
speak with strangers." 5 Women in the 
Greek world-view were to be neither seen 
nor heard. They were regarded as gossipy, 
immoral and, of course, vastly inferior to 
the male. The Greek husband had the 
right of life and death over his children — 
it was his prerogative to have his child 
killed or exposed if the child was weak, 
deformed or female. Under certain cir- 
(continued on page 60) 


Tradition, Family, Property 

Sat., May 13, 1978— Seventh Avenue & 
52nd Street, New York. Some 250-300 
people are gathered in front of the New 
York headquarters of Planned Parent- 
hood to protest a "blasphemy against the 
Blessed Virgin."' The full-page Daily 
News ad announcing the event calls it a 
"public rosary"— sponsored by the 
American Society for the Defense of 
Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)— 
to defend the Virgin Mary, the Family and 
the holy crusade against abortion. 

In fact, this is one of the first publicized 
demonstrations against abortion and 
against the women's movement staged by 
the religious far right in New York— a 
signal of a heightened campaign to come. 
On the surface, it has a surreal quality: 
here in mid-town Manhattan is a bizarre 
spectacle of medieval pageantry, grim life- 
less faces, and neo-fascist politics. (The 
Nazis, too, couched their public spectacles 
in medieval symbolism.) 

In front of the Brew 'n Burger restau- 
rant, a wooden speakers' platform has 
been set up; in the center is an altar bear- 
ing a statue of the" virgin and decked with 
flowers. Surrounding the altar, and wear- 
ing red drapes over their ordinary dark 
suits and ties, are some two dozen white 
men, many of whom hold red banners that 
display a heraldic lion and the words 
"Tradition— Family— Property." Others 
carry colored images of the virgin or 
printed placards with slogans such as: 



Policemen, some standing and some on 
horseback, form a cordon around the 
demonstrators and the speakers' plat- 
form. They stand or sit almost reverential- 
ly, with folded hands and solemn atten- 
tiveness to the speakers. They seem to be 
there to protect the demonstrators rather 
than to contain them . . . even to be 
participants. Those crowded behind the 
barricades are entirely white, middle- or 
lower-middle-class, very mixed in age, at 
least half male but with a large contingent 
of older women. The men and boys are all 
short-haired and cleanshaven; many of the 
women wear prim hats and carry rosaries 
—they are dressed for church. Children of 
all ages are scattered through the crowd, 
fidgeting or staring distractedly; one little 
girl has been brought out for the event in 
her white communion dress. A smiling 
lady in a fur-trimmed coat holds up her 
homemade sign: "A ROSARY A DAY 

What is especially striking about these 
people is not their predictable class origins 
and white skin, nor their conservative 
style, but the general air of blankness and 
passivity in their faces. Often they appear 
hardly to be listening to the speakers — or 
to have heard all this before. Many, 
perhaps most, are not from New York but 
have been bused in, dispatched by their 
parish priests, from the Connecticut, 
Queens, New Jersey and Long Island 
suburbs— even from as far as Washington, 
D.C. (This is important for us to note. 
While the religious right wing is dangerous 
in terms of its aims and its organizational 
and financial backing, it hasn't yet suc- 

ceeded in mobilizing a real mass base. Peo- 
ple on the street don't stop to join the 
rally, and the Daily News ad clearly failed 
to generate any support among city 

On a barrel next to the altar a series of 
TFP dignitaries (again, all white male) 
addresses the crowd, denouncing abor- 
tion, women's liberation, sexual promis- 
cuity, the Anti-Christ and the decline of 
Western civilization. They read prepared 
speeches, in tones of ranting militarism 
and venom that jar against the benign 
smile of the virgin and the lethargy of the 
audience. The only remark I hear that 
seems to arouse a real response is a blatant 
appeal to racism by Fordham University 
Professor William Harris (resentfully): 
"If we had any ethnic or racial identity 
they wouldn't have dared touch us; but 
because we're Christians [read: white, 
middle class] they would." And (shouting 
loudly): "We are the sleeping giant!" (In a 
recent article in Radical America, Linda 
Gordon and Allen Hunter 2 suggest that 
the New Right follows the classic pattern 
of fascist movements in its combined 
appeal to religious fervor and racism as 
means to generate support across class 
lines — and, one should add, across sex 

The featured speaker is a youngish, 
blond man who claims to be from the Que- 
bec TFP. Citing an English magazine's ac- 
count of the alleged "atrocities" of abor- 
tionists and abortion-seekers, he warns 
that "burned fetuses" are being sold to 
soap and cosmetic factories for their high 

(continued on page 61) 



cumstances, he had the right to kill his 
wife as well. His right to personally chas- 
tise her was assumed. 

The position of the Roman woman be- 
fore the Punic Wars was no better than 
that of her Greek sister. The Roman term 
patria potestas, meaning "father's au- 
thority" reflected the male's position of 
absolute ruler over the household. The 
Roman marriage ceremony passed owner- 
ship of the woman formally from father 
to husband, and it directed wives to live so 
as "to please their husbands only." 6 
While divorce, at least in early Rome, was 
illegal, the Romans did justify the hus- 
band's right to kill his wife for any of the 
following reasons: committing adultery, 
drinking wine, making poisons (this has 
been interpreted by some scholars to mean 
the concocting of potions to induce abor- 
tion), counterfeiting the husband's keys 
or any other "disgusting" behavior. 7 His 
right to beat her was a given in Roman so- 
ciety. Valerius Maximus relates the case of 
a husband who beat his wife to death be- 
cause she had drunk some wine. Maximus 
states "... his murder, far from being 
denounced, was not even blamed. People 
considered that her exemplary punish- 
ment had properly expiated her offense 
against the laws of sobriety." 8 Indeed, at 
least one Roman male lamented the fact 
that the beating of a wife did not achieve 
the desired obedience on her part. In a 
poem entitled "On Women" Semonides 
of Amorgos complained: 

And she wants to be in on everything 

that's said or done 
Scampering about and nosing into 

She yaps it out even if there's no one 

to listen 
Her husband can't stop her with threats 
Not if he speaks to her sweetly when they 

happen to be sitting among friends 
No, she stubbornly maintains her 

unmanageable ways.' 

The status of women underwent drastic 
changes after the Punic Wars. While the 
men were fighting, the management of 
their affairs was left to the women. Upon 
the return of the men, the women did not 
readily give up their new activities. This 
phenomenon, and the new wealth which 
began to flow into Rome as a result of 
conquest, were catalysts in the alteration 
of Roman society. Fathers became unwill- 
ing to give their daughters a generous 
dowry at marriage that would pass into 

the hands of the husband. The custom of 
contracting marriage without passing 
ownership of the wife to the husband 
ensued. Upon her marriage, the wife was 
placed under the control of an appointed 
guardian, whom she could replace with- 
out great difficulty. No longer under the 
authority of their husbands and now in 
possession of large dowries, women began 
to demand from their husbands and from 
the community at large, a greater amount 
of freedom in controlling their own per- 
sons and property. Divorce became more 
common and was more often initiated by 

As women, or at least women of the up- 
per classes, began to free themselves from 
the restrictions of the old patriarchal fam- 
ily, they allied with one another to further 
their common interests. About the time of 
Tiberius, we hear of a previously existing 
ordo matronaru, a "society" of married 
women. In Seneca we find mention of a 
women's meeting, and Suetonius also 
speaks of the women's meeting as an insti- 
tution representing women's interests. 10 
The efforts of these women represent per- 
haps the first attempt by women to join 
together in collective action against their 

From the closing years of the fourth 
century until well into the sixth, the bar- 
barian hordes of the North overran the 
empire of the Caesars, settling in the terri- 
tories won by conquest. Tacitus relates 
that among the early Germans an adulter- 
ous woman was beaten through the village 
until she died because she was proven 
unfaithful to her husband. An idle "gos- 
sipy" woman was the particular aversion 
of the Anglo-Saxons and she could expect 
swift punishment from her husband. In 
the Gnomic verses found in the Exeter 
book we read: "A rambling woman scat- 
ters words, a man thinks of her with con- 
tempt and oft smites her cheek."" 
Among the Germanic peoples, as among 
the Greeks and Romans, the husband had 
the assumed right to beat his wife. 

While Jesus himself never preached the 
degradation of women, the task was 
undertaken by St. Paul. In I Corinthians 
he urges that a woman should cover her 
head or have it shaved: "For a man in- 
deed ought not to cover his head, for as 
much as he is the image and Glory of 
God, but the woman is the glory of man. 
For the man is not for the woman, but the 
woman for the man. Neither was the man 
created of woman; but the woman of 



man." The apostle firmly asserted the 
principles of the patriarchal family once 

At the time Paul wrote these oft-quoted 
sayings, women in the imperial city of 
Rome, as we have noted, had achieved a 
relative degree of social and economic 
independence. Under the influence of the 
early church fathers, particularly Paul and 
Tertullian, women were to be quickly and 
brutally put back "in their places." Under 
the guidance of the Catholic Church a 
program of terrorization, brutalization 
and murder of women was initiated which 
has few parallels in the history of human 

The age of witch-hunting spanned more 
than four centuries in its sweep from Ger- 
many to England. It has been estimated 
that 85 percent of those burned were 
women. Men were burned as heretics as 
well, but after mercifully being strangled 
to death first. Women were burned alive 
for numerous pretexts: for threatening 
their husbands, for talking back to or re- 
fusing a priest, for bearing an illegitimate 
child, for adultery, for masturbating, for 
engaging in sodomy, even though the hus- 
band who committed sodomy was "for- 
given," for lesbianism, for scolding and 
nagging and for miscarrying, even if the 
miscarriage was the result of a beating 

from the husband. Women in the final 
stages of pregnancy were burned alive, the 
heat often bursting their bellies and pro- 
pelling the fetus outward beyond the fire. 
"The infant was then picked up and flung 
back into the fire at its mother's feet.'" 2 
Young daughters were often forced to 
dance with bare feet 100 times around the 
stake and through their mother's ashes in 
order to impress upon them forever the 
"memory of their mother's sins."" 

Every husband in medieval Europe was 
the wife's lord. If she killed him English 
law considered this treason and she was 
often burned as a traitor. Throughout 
Europe if a husband caught his wife in an 
act of adultery he could kill her without 
fear of punishment. Society encouraged 
and condoned his wrath. Under ordinary 
circumstances, he had the legal and moral 
right to chastise her physically; all legal 
systems of the time agreed on this. 
Throughout the Middle Ages, priests 
from the pulpit urged men "to beat their 
wives and their wives to kiss the rod that 
beat them.""' 

In France the law clearly stated that: 
"Provided he neither kills nor maims her, 
it is legal for a man to beat his wife when 
she wrongs him. For instance, when she is 
about to surrender her body to another 
(continued oh page 62) 


fat content, to be used in making commer- 
cial products ("selling human flesh"). 
Hence the gory conclusion: Women who 
get an abortion may be unknowingly rub- 
'bing the fat of their own dead baby on 
their face! (Could the bland acceptance of 
this "information" by the crowd, in con- 
trast to my own muffled gasp, be a sign 
that this is "old news" to them?) 

What is TFP? — While appearing fan- 
tastic andeven ludicrous on some level, the 
rally just described represents a deadly 
serious resurgence of the extreme right 
that originates in the right wing of the 
Church and tries to mobilize churchgoers 
as a mass base. Although the form and 
rhetoric of TFP are militantly religious, it 
is important to see that their exploitation 
of religious feeling masks very political 
purposes, especially with regard to repro- 
ductive issues. As of now, TFP's organiza- 
tional connection either to the Catholic 
Church hierarchy, the broader Right-to- 
Life movement or other right-wing (secu- 
lar and religious) groups are unclear. But 

its own politics are out front — and they 
are unquestionably anti-left, anti- 
feminist, anti-abortion and neo-fascist. In 
their own description: 

[TFP] is a civic organization based on the. 
principles of Natural Law as they are 
interpreted by Catholic social doctrine. It 
actively and vigorously opposes socialism 
and communism. The TFP defends our 
Christian traditions, the sacred institu- 
tions of the family, and private enterprise 
based on the right vof property, the three 
fundamental values being, undermined by 

Several crucial facts about TFP's struc- 
ture and political program emerge from 
studying its literature: 

1. The organization's membership is 

apparently all male, with an emphasis on 
organizing "young men." 

2. It combines a rigorously anti-com- 
munist line with active opposition to femi- 
nism and the goals of the women's move- 
ment, including abortion, publicly aided 
child care, etc. As with other right-wing 
organizations, however, TFP's activities 
in the area of reproductive and sexual poli- 
tics have recently overshadowed even its 

3. It co-opts the language and tactics of 
the left in the service of avowedly counter- 
revolutionary goals. For example, its 
organ, Crusade for a Christian 
Civilization, goes "directly to the people 

(continued on page 63) 

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man, when she contradicts or abuses him, 
or when she refuses, like a decent woman, 
to obey his reasonable commands." 15 
English laws also gave the husband the 
right to beat his wife: "If a man beat or 
outlaw a traitor, a pagan, his villian or his 
wife it is dispunishable." 16 

The Russian domestic code of the six- 
teenth century, the Domostroi, demanded 
absolute obedience from women and ad- 
vised them that their main reason for be- 
ing on earth was to fear God and please 
their husbands. Disobedient wives were to 
be beaten, "but not straight on the face or 
on the ear since the husband would be 
sorely disadvantaged should his spouse 
become blind or deaf." "Keep to the 
whip," enjoined the code, and "choose 
carefully where to strike."" Among the 
Slavic people the bridegroom beat the 
bride as part of the marriage ceremony.' 8 

Not only medieval Christians, but me- 
dieval Jews beat their wives. The Rabbi R. 
Perez proposed a reform to a council of 
rabbis which would have given to the bat- 
tered wife the right of legal separation and 
awarded her support payments. It was of 
course rejected. In it he states: "The cry 
of the daughers of our people has been 
heard concerning the sons of Israel who 
raise their hands to strike their wives . . . 
we have heard the cases where Jewish 
women complained regarding their treat- 
ment before the communities and no ac- 
tion was taken on their behalf."" The 
lack of interest and concern on the part of 
the state today and the feelings of futility 
it induces in women who look to it for 
help were experienced much earlier by the 
Jewish battered wife. 

Muslims, too, beat their wives and jus- 
tified this abuse by noting women's in- 
feriority. The Koran states: "Virtuous 
women are obedient and careful . . . but 
scold those who you fear may be rebel- 
lious, leave them alone in their beds and 
beat them." 20 The story is told that the 
Prophet once declared that a man should 
not beat his wife. He met with such oppo- 
sition on the part of the men who claimed 
that women, as a result, had become re- 
bellious and unruly that he had to modify 
his statement to say that indeed a man 
could beat his wife but he could not "hit 
her in the face." 21 

The Renaissance was marked by vast 
upheavals in the economic and class struc- 
tures of European societies. While it is 
true that during this time women had 
greater opportunities for exposure to edu- 


cation and greater participation in social 
life, it must be understood that the chang- 
es relating to the status of women were 
changes in the appearance rather than the 
essence of their oppression. We can never 
really regard women's status at any time 
in past history as progressing or regress- 
ing, but simply as assuming new forms 
and performing new functions. As 
indicated in a French work of the era, at- 
titudes toward women were to remain es- 
sentially the same as they had been 
throughout history. A woman was still ex- 
pected to "pay honor, reverence and re- 
spect to her husband . . . obedience in all 
things just and lawful, adapting herself 
and bending to the habits and disposition 
of her husband, having no private pur- 
pose, love or thought, she must be in all 
and through all with her husband . . . 
wash his feet, keep his house . . ." 22 As 
usual, the power of the husband to en- 
force obedience to his will by beatings and 
imprisonment in the house was unques- 
tioned. "Woman good or bad needs the 
stick" 23 is an old Tuscan saying which was 
nonetheless observed throughout Europe 
during the Renaissance. 

Among the earliest laws prohibiting 
wife abuse were those of the New England 
colonies. While the southern colonies not 
only legalized but encouraged through 
statute the physical chastisement of wives, 
the majority of northern colonies prohib- 
ited a man from beating his wife. This is 
not to say, of course, that wife beating did 
not occur — it did. Goodsell notes the case 
of a man summoned before the New Eng- 
land town council of elders for beating his 
wife. Like so many husbands of today in 
similar circumstances, he claimed his right 
to do so on the basis of the fact that "she 
was his servant and slave." 24 Throughout 
the New England colonies cruelty consti- 

tuted sufficient grounds for divorce. It 
must be made clear, however, that these 
laws did not aim to put an end to the pun- 
ishment of "disobedient" wives, but sim- 
ply transferred the right of chastisement 
from the husband to the state. In the colo- 
nies a woman who was disobedient to her 
husband, or who nagged or verbally 
abused him, was punished by being put in 
stocks or submerged in water in a ducking 
stool. 25 

The continued prevalence of wife abuse 
in the face of its legal prohibition points 
out one of the glaring flaws of liberal 
democratic thought: the belief that laws 
rather than social relations govern peo- 
ple's behavior. When these social relations 
themselves are examined in their material 
and historical framework they emerge as 
relations between dominator and domi- 
nated, oppressor and oppressed, powerful 
and powerless. More concretely they may 
be seen to be relations of exploitation and 
class struggle founded along economic 
and sexual lines. When wife abuse is per- 
ceived in this context it becomes clear that 
the conclusions drawn by scholars and re- 
searchers working on the issue of the 
"battered wife syndrome" are erroneous. 
Men do not beat their wives because they 
drink, take drugs, feel insecure, or be- 
cause their wives provoke them. Men to- 
day batter their wives for the same reasons 
that men have battered women through- 
out history: because they have believed it 
their right, their privilege and their duty to 
do so. Why do men batter? They do so as 
a function of the domination they exercise 
over women as a sex-class, a domination 
that is inherent in the very structures of 
societies that men have created in their 
own image. 

Mary Metzger 




up iik 


The first two shelters in America were in St. Paul, 
Minn, and Boston, Mass. These shelters were be- 
gun by battered women such as Betsy Warrior 
who founded Boston's Transition House. These 
pioneer shelters were run cooperatively and in the 
case of Transition House, nonhierarchically. 
While shelters continue to open they are increas- 
ingly under the auspices of city, state and/or 
federal agencies or arc funded or operated by 
church and civic organizations. They are, conse- 
quently, less "feminist" in their approach, being 
more concerned with the preservation of the fami- 
ly than in the amelioration of the status of 

This was taken from my notes. I do not have a 
copy of the original paper, but Majority Report 
did print excerpts from Rohrlich-Leavitt's paper 
about a month after the conference. I don't have 
that copy either. 

Vern L. Bullough, The Subordinate Sex: A 
History of Attitudes Towards Women (Chicago: 
University of Illinois Press, 1974), p. 69. 
Ibid., p. 69. 

R.E.L. Masters, and Eduard Lea, The Anti Sex: 
The Belief in the Natural Inferiority of Women: 
Studies in Male Frustration and Sexual Conflict 
(New York: Julian Press, 1964), p. 3. 
Otto Kiefer, Sexual Life in Ancient Rome 
(London: Abbey Library, 1971), p. 15. 
Ibid., pp. 7-55. 

Julia O'Faolain and Lauro Martines, eds., Not in 
God's Image: Women in History from the Greeks 
to the Victorians (New York: Harper and Row, 
1973), p. 37. 

Sarah B. Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives 
and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (New 
York: Schocken Books, 1975), p. 49. 
Kiefer, p. 51. 

Willystine Goodsell, A History of the Family as a 
Social and Educational Institution (New York: 
Macmillan, 1930), p. 196. 

Elizabeth Gould-Davis, The First Sex (Baltimore: 
Penguin Books, 1973), p. 257. 
Ibid., p. 257. 
Ibid., p. 259. 

Cited in O'Faolain and Martines, p. 17. 
Ibid., p. 17. 

Masters and Lea, p. 19. 

See Edward Westermark, A Short History of 
Marriage (New York: Macmillan, 1926), p. 197, 
for other instances in which the wife is struck as 
part of the actual marriage ceremony. 
O'Faolain and Martines, p. 176. 
Koran, IV, p. 8. 
O'Faolain and Martines, p. 112. 
Goodsell, p. 263. 
Ibid., p. 264. 
Ibid., p. 348. 
Ibid., p. 349. 


on the streets." It hails young 
"Americans" who have "joined the 
movement," through its study groups, 
called SEFAC (Specialized Education and 
Formation in Anti-Communism). In 1975, 
it organized in support of the American 
puppet regime in South Vietnam, using 
such familiar peace movement methods as 
the candlelight vigil; and it has organized 
campus rallies against the Panama Canal 

4. There is ample evidence that TFP is 
linked to, or perhaps grew out of, extreme 
right-wing Catholic organizations in Latin 
America. In a summary of its program 
since its founding in the U.S. in the early 
1970's, TFP indicates its affiliation with 
groups in Brazil, Argentina and Chile, its 
frequent "cultural exchanges" with such 
groups, and its support of the junta in 
Chile. These connections are ominous to 
say the least, since it is well known that or- 
ganizations such as Patria y Libertad in 
Chile — which maintains nearly identical 
"principles" to those of TFP — have been 
engaged in violent counterinsurgency 
activity, were instrumental in overthrow- 
ing the Allende government, and have 
been heavily funded by the CIA. 

That the abortion issue has become a 
principal target of the far right is not sur- 
prising. In recent months, the escalation 
of local and national attacks on gay rights, 
ERA, abortion rights and sex education 
have made it amply clear that the real 
stakes of "New Right" politics are the tra- 
ditional family, "the system of male- 
dominated heterosexuality" and a general 
fear of women's independence. As 
Gordon and Hunter point out, it is the lat- 
ter more than "concern for the unborn" 
that underlies the viciousness of the cur- 
rent attacks. 3 What feminists did not 
anticipate until recently, however, was the 
degree of physical violence that the right- 
wing anti-abortion campaign would un- 
leash. Abortion clinics throughout the 
country have been subjected to increasing 
harrassment in the form of picketing, 
verbal abuse of patients and staff, vandal- 
ism, interruption of medical procedures 
and a series of fire-bombings in Omaha, 
Burlington, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleve- 
land and St. Paul (where an anti-gay ordi- 
nance has also been passed recently). In 
Cleveland a receptionist at the Concerned 
Women's Clinic was temporarily blinded 
when a bag of gasoline was thrown into 
her face. 

Not only is the Catholic Church hierar- 
chy in the U.S. not taking a stand against 

these acts of violence, but there is evidence 
that many archdiocese are condoning and 
even encouraging such tactics as part of 
their own quest for political power. In any 
case, the connection of extreme right reli- 
gious groups such as TFP to anti-abortion 
violence seems more than plausible. 
Consider this: in 1976, TFP held "a four- 
month special course for young men" in 
Cleveland, and in 1977 it organized a 
"special summer course for boys" in that 
city. Thus, there is a very direct and stra- 
tegic urgency for feminists concerned with 
•abortion rights to study carefuly the poli- 
tics and tactics of TFP and similar groups 
and to mobilize others against them. We 
have to begin to piece together, in a very 
precise way, who and where the enemy is; 
what exactly the ties are within the anti- 
abortion movement between the Church 
hierarchy which encourages and the tacti- 
cal organizations which mobilize crusades, 
pickets and fire-bombings of clinics. This 
is a matter of survival — to be able to de- 
fend ourselves against potential violence 
as well as to develop a winning strategy in 
the movement to gain reproductive free- 
dom for women. 

But it is also important that feminist 
groups join with like-minded organiza- 
tions on the left and in the gay community 
in the effort to analyze, expose and defeat 
the extreme right. We should push to form 
coalitions with such organizations to 
mobilize large counterdemonstrations 
whenever and wherever TFP appears on 
the streets, to let them know that neo- 
fascism won't be tolerated in our com- 
munities. And we should make the basis of 
such coalitions our understanding, not 
only that we share a common enemy, but 
that violence against women and against 
women's reproductive freedom is the 
major form that political reaction is taking 
in this period. In the politics of an organi- 
zation like TFP, the link between anti- 
abortion/anti-feminist/ "pro-family "poli- 
tics and anti-communist/counterinsurgen- 
cy politics becomes very clear; they 
connect these two struggles, and so must 

— Roz Petchesky 


1. The occasion for this "solemn service" was the 
publication of a booklet called "Abortion Eve" by 
a Planned Parenthood local which depicted a grin- 
ning Virgin Mary surrounded by cherubs and cap- 
tioned, "What, Me Worry?" Planned Parenthood 
for America disclaims this publication and has pub- 
licly apologized for its "malicious and profoundly 
offensive cover." 

2. Linda Gordon and Allen Hunter, "Sex, Family, 
and the New Right: Anti-Feminism as a Political 
Force," Radical America (Nov. 1977-Feb. 1978). 

3. Gordon and Hunter, pp. 10-11. 




^^^^JS^JZJfc female ™ le in -ual activity and 
clothes (transvestisnT) genS S t *' ^T^ ^ hipS ' Wea ™% wom <^ 
homosexuals are man ly fn th eir ^ outwarVLn ^ l ° **""* attenti ° n - Some maI * 
can be picked out by he company tleykeen^T^ 6 ' "l™* 11 and talk t0Ugh ' but 
who have to be watched caSly L cause of the ^^1? ^ *** * re ° ften " W ° lveS " 
"love affairs". Jealousy rivalries a Jd if.. u. * th&y Can Stir U P over th ™ 
sexual relationships Ear luoLTt 7 T* ^^ ^^ Can result from ho ™>- 
represent not only a threat J fZliL ll° V r iT 1 ™*' For this ™«on, they 
institution. ° the V1Ctim ° f the woIf "■ but ^so to the discipline of the 

.Even though they are caricatures of normal sex life and mm*™, i, 
affairs m prisons or iails are nn inir^ »„a u u TV romance, homosexual 

be promptly broken up Thisls n^, , ", d *? be treated aS SUch " ^y should 
dividuals may learn homosexu a ,n r , a imP ° rtant because even f a*ly normal in- 
and protected from "wolves' When thev 17°^ ^7 T DOt Pr ° Perly SUp ™ d 
up a normal sex life ttis the dn^nAv, * ar \ released > thev "W be unable to take 
from the inmate^ during KHS 11 h/T "f 0n,y t0 Pr ° teCt SOd ^ 
other inmates who may damage weak Pn^n "l^ t0 Pr ° tect an inmate fro ™ 

his moral fibre JuS because hall \ <■ T^ ° r otherwise de ^oy what is left of 
life because of the ^ ** a,m ° St inevitable in ?» 

not relax a stern n^o?*^^^"™"* *' CUSt ° diaI ° ffiCer m " St 


others interviewed reported one or ™L t , ° f the male sub Jects he and 

on,y 4 % of the group fnt^^^^ 

always dangers in this type of explTelTslZt toth^ r ^T^' *<** are 

son or the intensity of tij ^ experience he ufdergoes "^^ ° f the ^ 






War is waged on women in many different 
ways. One especially violent battle is cur- 
rently being fought b,y the health care es- 
tablishment through that particular field 
that caters to women's "special" 
function — human reproduction. While 
there has recently been renewed interest in 
how to make childbearing less painful for 
women and children, less attention has 
been paid to how to make the control of 
childbearing through contraception pain- 
less and safe. Indeed, both aspects of 
reproduction — having and not having 
children — must come under the control of 
women if we are to eliminate the type of 
violence currently being waged on women 
and their bodies. 

In this paper we will explain why we 
think population planning and birth con- 
trol demand the attention of the feminist 
and radical community today, describe 
some of the ways the population establish- 
ment has abused women, and then exam- 
ine the theoretical underpinnings of that 
abuse from a feminist, a marxist and a 
marxist-feminist point of view. 

I. Why should women be concerned 
about population control? 

A. The mentality of crisis 
The population problem is part of the 
"mentality of crisis" that threatens the 
goals of oppressed groups today, includ- 
ing working people in general, and 
women, blacks and nationalists in parti- 
cular. Over the last decade we have seen 
the emergence of a widespread feeling of 
alarm on the part of government leaders 
and the media about such issues as the 
dwindling supply of natural resources and 
food, decreased quantities of fuel and in- 
creased contamination of the environ- 
ment. Population growth is often viewed 
as the culprit. 

The attention given to the "population 
problem" feeds a growing sense of doom 
which makes rational planning difficult 
and allows government to enact harsh and 
stringent measures as an expedient against 

"disaster." Although indeed some fear is 
justified about these problems and cer- 
tainly many Americans do suffer from 
low wages or lack of jobs, high prices on 
food, poor housing and health care, as 
well as a deteriorating environment, to 
blame the problem of the quality of life on 
the quantity of people is to obscure rather 
than clarify the issue. 

The crisis mentality diverts the focus of 
social and political attention from needy 
constituencies. Money is spent on reform 
measures that offer little of substance to 
any one group. Arguments that compare 
the world to a lifeboat and suggest using 
the technique of triage (selecting whom to 
feed according to their prospects of sur- 
vival) tend to divide rather than unite us. 
Thus, we hear such statements as: "You 
can't give more jobs to women when there 
aren't enough jobs for men!" and people 
like Bakke go to court to assert the right 
of the majority to fight minority groups 
for places in the educational system. As 
the problems of food, health, employ- 
ment and housing become defined as 
global issues, there is a danger that the 

problems of women, who have historically 
been poorly fed, housed, cared for and, 
by and large, under-, and unemployed, will 
be ignored. 

B. The importance of reproduction to 


The second reason that the population 

problem is of concern to women is that it 
focuses on a (and some might say the) 
central aspect of female existence — repro- 
duction. Although women vary in their at- 
titudes toward their biological capacity to 
bear children, few women can go through 
life without being affected in some way by 
it. Thus, through population control pro- 
grams, a major aspect of female gender 
identity is taken from women and placed 
in the hands of male policymakers, practi- 
tioners and researchers who enact legisla- 
tion, design programs and develop tech- 
nologies that are primarily used on or 
against women and their bodies. 
Although women are the objects (other- 
wise known as "targets") of population 
planning programs and are often the vic- 
tims of these programs, they are rarely in- 
cluded in the decision-making process.' In 
fact, it is indicative of the field's male 
hegemony that until very recently the 
"population problem" was defined in 
terms that excluded either women or sex- 
uality — two ingredients essential to the 
creation of any population. 

C. The repressive and sexist morality of 
population planning 

Population control theories objectify 
women through an analysis derived from 
Malthusian economics which had its ori- 
gins in a repressive and sexist philosophy. 
The thesis of Malthus (a minister) was that 
the social ills of the nineteenth century, 
such as poverty and disease, resulted from 
the tendency of humans to reproduce 
more rapidly than agricultural resources 
could expand. The unrestrained sexuality 
of humans (read: females) was thus 
viewed as the cause of social crises; self- 
control was offered as the necessary solu- 
tion to these problems. 

Today, using the label "neo-Malthus- 
ian," population experts explain the 
large-scale misery, the economic and 
social impoverishment of the poorer 
classes and of the "developing countries" 
by reference to "ignorance," "poor plan- 
(continued on page 67) 


mmmmmmmtmu^mmithMKiiuiiiiff ii 

It reads like science fiction: telemetry 
(long-distance remote control messages to 
determiiie behavior); Electrical Stimula- 
tion of the Brain (ESB); disorientation 
drugs; psychosurgery. But it is not science 
fiction. It is the technology used by medi- 
cal men to control human behavior. 

In the 1950s, there was a lobotomy 
craze in the United States. Over 50,000 
victims, mostly women, were loboto- 
mized. It horrified people — especially the 
relatives and friends of the victims. Many 
in the medical profession were not per- 
suaded that the "cure" served any med- 
ical purpose. Then for almost 10 years 
very little was heard about lobotomy. 
During the dissatisfied and rebellious 
years of the 1960s lobotomy resurfaced. 
Once again psychosurgeons had a cure for 
the nation's discontent — not only a cure, 
but an analysis. People were not acting 
out of anger. They were not demonstrat- 
ing, marching and rioting because of so- 
cial realities: poverty no longer bearable, a 
vicious war no longer acceptable, racism. 
The cause was damaged brains. "Shrew- 
ish" women, upset children, angry unem- 
ployed workers, urban rioters, anti-war 
demonstrators, all these people revealed 
by their behavior that their brains were 
"sick." Millions of tax dollars went to- 
ward a variety of programs to control be- 
havior. Lobotomy was back with a new 

Psychosurgery lobotomizes more spe- 
cific areas of the brain; it is a less general- 
ized operation. .The intentions and results 
are the same — to control behavior by al- 
tering those areas of the brain that govern 
intellectual capacity and emotional re- 
sponse. If we cannot think or feel, we 
cannot react too vigorously to our 

Psychosurgeons have been very specific 
about the nature of their work. Dr. O. J. 
Andy, head of the department of neuro- 
surgery at the University of Mississippi 
Medical Center operates on children as 
young as five. In the 1973 Senate Hearings 
on Psychosurgery, Dr. Andy spoke blunt- 
ly: "For the treatment of abnormal be- 

havior it thus is rational to utilize either 
surgical or psychological techniques to 
alter the brain function. The surgical tech- 
nique is a direct approach to the structural 
and functional organization of the brain, 
whereas the psychological technique is 
indirect.'" Psychotherapy takes longer, is 
not cost-efficient and involves environ- 
mental, societal and familial changes. 
Sedative neurosurgery produces immedi- 
ate results. 

Neither Dr. O. J. Andy, nor his col- 
leagues Dr. Marion Jurko, advocate fun- 
damental social change. They believe that 
anybody "involved in any uprising such as 
Watts and Detroit could have abnormal 
brains." Drs. Frank Ervin, Vernon Mark 
and William Sweet wrote a letter to the 
AMA Journal in March 1967 contending 
that since the vast majority of "slum 

dwellers" did not riot, there must be 
"something peculiar about the violent 
slum dweller that differentiates him from 
his peaceful neighbor." 2 In 1970 Dr. 
Ervin explained their position further: 

We're not talking about being nice to peo- 
ple ... I found out 30 years ago that 
didn't sell anybody. We're really talking 
about being socially cost-effective. If you 
can work out a way to define, diagnose, 
treat, and even prevent a problem, you're 
going to save a lot of money. 1 

Drs. Ervin, Sweet and mark have been 
well rewarded for their interests in cost- 

efficiency. Their projects have been fund- 
ed by the Boston Mayor's Office from a 
state grant under the "Safe Streets Act" 
($50,000), the Law Enforcement Assis- 
tance Agency ($100,000), the National In- 
stitute for Mental Health ($500,000), the 
National Institute for Neurological Dis- 
eases and Stroke ($1 million) and, in order 
to expand the Boston Program and estab- 
lish new ones in Houston and Los Ange- 
les, the National Institute of Health ($1 

In Santa Monica, California, neurosur- 
geon M. Hunter Brown is also concerned 
about cost-accounting. He reports per- 
forming 20 operations on people who 
walked into his office from the street after 
they had read an article in The National 
Enquirer, explaining how, with "thermal 
probes," "vicious killers" could be trans- 
formed into "happy, peaceful citizens." 
Now Dr. Brown sees a "bright future for 
operation on criminals, especially those 
who are young and intelligent." Such op- 
erations will free the state of the economic 
burden of "rehabilitating" its youthful 
offenders. "Each violent young criminal 
incarcerated for 20 years to life costs tax- 
payers perhaps $100,000." For only 
$6,000, Brown observes, one can simply 
operate. Even more economical, Brown 
contends, would be a program that would 
enable doctors to identify and operate on 
potentially violent women and men before 
they commit a crime." 

Disregard for human rights is not lim- 
ited to criminals, rioters or "slum dwell- 
ers." Women have been the group.,most 
victimized by medical practice in general, 
and by psychosurgery in particular. Dr. 
Peter Lindstrom of San Francisco per- 
forms psychosurgery for everything from 
depression, pain, "obsessive, compulsive 
and phobic reactions" to "hypochondri- 
asis." He has operated on almost 500 
patients. Eighty percent of his neurotic 
patients are women. 5 There is nothing 
physically wrong with these women. 
There is nothing untreatable by the tradi- 
tional psychotherapy and/or drug therapy 

(continued on page 68) 


Pop Planning 

ning motivation" (i.e., lack of impulse 
control) and "lack of education." Such a 
moral philosophy allows population plan- 
ners to overlook social, historical and cul- 
tural origins of fertility rates, and justifies 
those who would blame the individual 
rather than the social system that fails to 
distribute according to human needs. 
Since the individual most obviously in- 
volved in reproduction is the woman, 
blame often falls on her. 

D. Economic and cultural differences in 
the meaning of reproduction that chal- 
lenge feminist theory 
The final and perhaps most theoretically 
compelling reason for women to be con- 
cerned about the population problem is 
that as an issue population, birth control 
and reproduction pose a challenge to 
much current theory and analysis in the 
women's movement. Many middle- and 
upper-middle-class women believe that 
birth control and population planning are 
synonymous and that both serve the needs 
of women of all classes. In fact, however, 
although many birth controllers and even 
some population planners have been fem- 
inists, the interests of women of all classes 
have not always been served by these 
movements. 2 For example, contraceptive 
devices often differ by class: middle-class 
women have been encouraged to use 
methods that allow more individual con-' 
trol such as the diaphragm and the pill, 

and poorer women have been encouraged 
to use methods controlled by the phy- 
sician, such as the 1UD and sterilization. 
Abortion, which has always been avail- 
able in this country to women who could 
afford to pay for it, was briefly legalized 
for women of poorer classes, but with the 
withholding of Medicaid payments for 
abortion, it is now again accessible only to 
those who can pay. Thus, population pro- 
grams and birth control technologies have 
been used to further the separation of the 
classes and to maintain fertility rates that 
benefit the privileged. 

Just as birth control and population 
planning have been experienced different- 
ly by women in different classes, and in 
different cultural settings, so too has the 
meaning of reproduction and the value of 
having children varied. Whereas middle- 
class families in industrialized areas such 
as the U.S. and Western Europe do not 
usually benefit economically from having 
many children, since the preparation of 
children for skilled jobs is costly, families 
in agricultural settings and in economies 
(such as urban ghettos) that require less 
skilled labor and income from many indi- 
viduals do benefit from having many chil- 
dren. Thus, birth control aimed at de- 
creasing family size is highly valued in the 
former settings and is either irrelevant or 
threatening to the economic well-being of 
families in the latter. 

An understanding of the meaning of 
reproduction to women in various parts of 
the U.S. as well as in such varied settings 

as agricultural communities in Asia or 
squatter settlements in Latin America, can 
help us expand our understanding of the 
female condition and develop a feminist 
analysis that is meaningful to a larger 
number of women. 

As we have seen, the population prob- 
lem is important to women because it is 
part of the growing crisis mentality, it en- 
compasses one of the most central aspects 
of female identity, it represents a moral 
position that threatens women's freedom, 
and it challenges our feminist analysis. 
For these reasons it is essential that we 
discuss the problem of population as 
women, not just so that we can have a 
piece of the pie, but so that our under- 
standing of the root reasons and solution 
of the problem can be heard. 

II. How are women abused in population 
planning programs? 

The abuse of women in the field of popu- 
lation planning is of such proportion as to 
warrant a separate article. Suffice it to say 
here that as yet there is no completely safe 
and effective birth control method avail- 
able to women, so that all birth control 
programs that encourage the use of any 
method are de facto harming women. 
Furthermore, leaders in the field of popu- 
lation planning have only recently begun 
to acknowledge that women can be viewed 
as more than "targets" in their pro- 
grams — in fact their critical role as child- 
bearers and contraceptors makes them a 
logical choice as researchers, practitioners 
and policymakers. Despite this recent en- 
lightenment the sexist, elitist and imperial- 
istic tendencies of the fields of birth con- 
trol and population planning are pervasive 
and can be easily examined through the 
"family planning" literature. 3 

III. Critique of population planning 

A. The traditional population control 

The theoretical thinking' behind much 
population planning is based on the idea 
that economic, social and political 
conditions are the result of population 
growth. Population planners have 
borrowed several notions from Malthus 
and updated them to apply to the 
contemporary situation. To Malthus the 
critical factor in understanding political 
and social problems was the ratio between 
the growth of the population (which he 
described as "geometric") and the growth 
of agricultural resources (which he 

(continued on page 69) 


alternatives. Yet hundreds of women have 
undergone his "Prefrontal Sonic Treat- 
ments," which are nothing more than 
technologically advanced prefrontal 

In Kingston, Ontario, Dr. Robert Heth- 
erington was refused permission to lobo- . 
tomize male patients because of "adverse 
publicity" but "was allowed to operate on 
seventeen women." 6 Another Canadian 
has operated on women for personality 
disorders and marital problems. One pa- 
tient, unhappy in her marriage, ran away 
from her husband and felt suicidal. "Af- 
ter her lobotomy," the good doctor 
reported, "she was no longer promiscu- 
ous and became a faithful partner in her 
marriage." 7 

Dr. Walter Freeman, now retired, who 
holds the world's psychosurgery record, is 
very precise about why the overwhelming 
number of psychosurgery patients have 
been women. According to Dr. Freeman, 
women "make better victims" because 
"they have less power in general." He de- 
scribes the first patient ever lobotomized 
in the United States, a woman never 
before hospitalized. Freeman writes that 
she needed the operation because she 
"was a past master at bitching and really 
led her husband a dog's life." Psychosur- 
gery cuts away all the highest capacities of 
the brain including, in Freeman's words, 
"the ability to introspect, to speculate, to 
philosophize, especially in regard to the 
self." Creativeness jnvolves "imagina- 
tion, concentration, visualization, self- 
•criticism and persistence" — all of which 
are diminished. These are qualities that 
men with power have traditionally consid- 
ered irrelevant in women and minority 
groups. Freeman's bigotry is unmistak- 
able. He writes that in his 15 years of 
"success," women, older, largely Jewish 
patients and Negroes have been some of 
his best clients. 8 

An encompassing example of psycho- 
surgeons' attitudes toward women may be 
seen today at the UCLA Center for the 
Study of Violence. Run by Ervin, Vernon, 
Mark and company, the Center's program 
includes a mass screening facility for psy- 
chosurgery candidates, with the stated 
aim being to study violence in the individ- 
ual. It emphasizes "the rioter," "the mur- 
derer" and "violence — possibilities dur- 
ing the menstruation cycle of a woman." 

Electrical Stimulation of the Brain 
(ESB) represents a sophisticated advance 
in psychosurgical technology. This new 


Til® Mind -Puckers Statement 

I'd say it 9 s time to give the ralnd-f uckers 
a taste of their own medicine, since it 
could be decades too late before our oppres- 
sors could be tried under an updated version 
of the Nuremberg codes. Those who prescribe 
Thorazine^ Prolixin,, Anectine 5 etc 8 „ should 
be injected with those drugs* Those who 
prescribe shock treatments should get the 
circuits turned around on therm Those who 
prescribe lobotomies should be lobotoraised 
Doctors & attendants who rape s molest 8 use 
& abuse female clients & inmates should be 
subjected to similar treatments. Likewise 
for the latter-day Pavlovians who prescribe 
aversion 'therapy 1 or remote control of 
human beings via the Implantation of elec- 
trodes in their brains. And surgeons, nurses 
& attendants should not be let off easily 
because they were 'only following orders* 9 
All those who have conspired to administer 
psychiatric assaults, including manufactur- 
ers of drugs & of electro-shock machines e 
should be forced to bear responsibility for 
their crimes against the people. It is the 
responsibility of all human beings to be 
informed about & to prevent the psycho- 
logical, physical social & economic assaults 
which are being performed in the name of 
1 therapy 8 . We have tried to take back our 
mental wealth from the professionals & para- 
professionals who have stolen it from us. 
It's time for the ralnd-f uckers to get a 
taste of their own medicine. 

- — She bar Winds-Ion® » 

method, according to Medical World 
News, has enabled Dr. Robert G. Heath 
(Chairman of the Department of Psychia- 
try and Neurology at Tulane University in 
New Orleans) to implant more electrodes 
into the human brain than anyone in the 
world. With as many as 125 implanta- 
tions, the brain is turned "into a human 
pin-cushion," and his patients into his 
puppets who carry with them "electrical 
self-stimulators," traveling-companion 
transistorized packets generally connected 
to the brain's "pleasure centers." Heath 
believes that anguish and upset behavior 
can be replaced by "positive pleasure feel- 
ings." Generously, he has wired his pa- 
tients for sensations that he describes as 
"better than sex." He notes that his 
patients are not troublesome since they 
can "indulge themselves at the rate of 
more than 1,000 stimulations an hour." 

Many clients are "frigid" women and 
homosexuals. Heath was pleased to an- 
nounce that after weeks of self-stimula- 
tion made possible by ESB, a male 
homosexual encountered "his first suc- 
cessful heterosexual experience." 9 

Dr. Jose Delgado, the most prominent 
ESB researcher, seems to be more inter- 
ested in social control: he calls for a 
"cerebral victory" for humanity. Until he 
returned to his native Spain, where he 
continues his research, Delgado worked at 
Yale University with research support 
from the Office of Naval Research and 
the Air Force. A survey of his work indi- 
cates why the military was interested in 
funding his studies. Delgado has been able 
to stop a charging bull in his tracks 
through remote-control radio stimulation 
of an electrode implanted in its brain. 

(continued on page 70) 


described as "arithmetic"). Because these 
two growth rates are unequal, poverty and 
attendant social ills develop when fertility 
rates are too high. Malthus believed that 
fertility rates are likely to be high, 
especially among the lower classes, 
because their undisciplined nature is self- 
serving and pleasure-seeking. He felt this 
tendency to proliferate would result in 
political and social turmoil unless people 
were forced (by the more enlightened 
citizenry) to curb their appetites. 

Today, neo-Malthusians follow a 
similar line of thought in attempting to 
explain the social and political problems 
of the developing world and of the lower 
classes in the developed world. Experts in 
the fields of demography and population 
planning speak of the "tragedy of the 
commons" 4 in describing the tendency of 
individuals to ignore the good of the 
group and seek to maximize their "piece 
of the pie" which they believe is limited by 
finite agricultural resources. In addition 
to the alleged tendency of people to out- 
strip natural resources by their high rate 
of increase, modern societies in the deve- 
loping world are also burdened with the 
effects of the decreased mortality that has 
resulted from Western medical technolog- 
ical advance. Thus, while birth rates have 
continued to increase, death rates have 
diminished, producing an abundance of 
people. Because Western medicine is 
blamed for this interference with nature, 
many population planners consider it the 
obligation of Western countries to remedy 
this imbalance by promoting birth con- 
trol (a twentieth-century white man's 

To the modern population expert 
numbers are only part of the problem. 
Which groups and classes increase is also 
considered to be an issue. Much of the 
concern about high fertility rates is a re- 
sponse to high fertility among groups of 
people who are seen as not being effective 
producers or consumers in terms of the 
economy. For example, welfare clients 
and unemployed citizens who have many 
children are viewed as adding to the class 
of "dependents." "Third World" coun- 
tries are also said to suffer from a growing 
"dependency ratio" (the ratio of those 
who are supported by the economy, e.g., 
children and the elderly, to those who 
contribute to the economy. This is parti- 
cularly troubling to American capitalists 
who invest in these countries. By com- 
paring the rest of the world to the United 

States, many population planners have 
concluded that the best way to develop a 
stable (capitalist) economy is to have 
smaller families that can afford to educate 
their children for highly skilled jobs so 
they can earn enough money to be active 
consumers and thus feed the financial 
growth of the society. Thus, families are 
encouraged to limit their size to two chil- 
dren and are promised the bliss of a 
middle-class existence. 

More recently, some population experts 
have acknowledged that the promise of a 
happy life through the use of family plan- 
ning has not been sufficient to either re- 
duce population growth in some areas or 
to improve the standard of living. 
Another school of thought has therefore 
developed, borrowing some from the soc- 
ialist viewpoint. This "developmentalist" 
school of thought suggests a two-way rela- 
tionship between population control and 
social and economic development. In 
order for people to benefit from family 
planning, or even to utilize it, they must 
be offered some of the advantages of de- 
velopment first, such as schooling and 
housing, or even jobs. From this point of 
view, family planning programs must be 
introduced simultaneously with develop- 
ment programs to ensure the stabilized 
population growth which is the goal. 5 As a 
result of this viewpoint, money previously 
devoted solely to population programs is 
now being channeled into "development" 

B. A marxist critique 
To the marxist, traditional population 
planning theory suffers from several 
fundamental flaws which have so far 
impeded its ability either to explain cur- 
rent growth (and recent declines) or to 
alter successfully fertility rates. From a 
dialectical point of view, population ex- 
perts have the relationship backwards. 
Economic and material conditions deter- 
mine population growth rates, rather than 
vice versa and scarcity of resources is due 
not to numbers of people but to how pro- 
duction is organized and wealth is distri- 
buted. Thus, if one wishes to alter popula- 
tion growth, one must first examine the 
social and economic situation of the 
people in a society at a given historical 
period. Such an examination inevitably 
shows that fertility rates are strongly 
determined by the structure of the 
economy and the condition of the labor 
market. For example, American birth? 
rates decreased during the Depression 
when children were costly and later during 
World War II when women were needed 
in the labor market. When veterans 
returned from World War II, the labor 
market was flooded with males needing 
work", so women were encouraged to 
return to the home and to have more 
children, thus producing a consumer class 
to help recoup the economy. 

Similarly, the economic structure of 
agricultural society determines fertility 

(continued on page 71) 

With a "ten second radio stimulation" he 
was able to inhibit "maternal behavior 
. . . most widely shared by mammals." 
He was able to turn a nursing mother 
monkey away from the "tender calls" of 
her infant and make her assume an aggres- 
sive attitude marked by "self-biting." 
"Peace and war" are now within the con- 
trol of the scientist," Delgado concluded. 
Delgado's vision of the future extends 
even to cosmetics: 

Leaving wires inside of a thinking brain 
may appear unpleasant or dangerous, but 
actually the many patients who have un- 
dergone this experience have not been 
concerned about the fact of being wired, 
nor have they felt any discomfort due to 
the presence of conductors in their heads. 
Some women have shown their feminine 
adaptability to circumstances by wearing 
attractive hats or wigs to conceal their 
electrical headgear. 10 

We read a lot these days about human 
rights. We read about how human rights 
are denied to the people of the Soviet 
Union in particular. But lobotomy was 
declared an illegal operation in the Soviet 
Union in 1951. In September 1976, on the 
other hand, the U.S. removed psychosur- 
gery from the "experimental" category 
and elevated it to the realm of "therapy." 
Despite months of hearings, long deliber- 
ations and vigorous public protest against 
psychosurgery, spearheaded by Dr. Peter 
Breggin, the National Commission for the 
Protection of Human Subjects of Bio- 
medical and Behavioral Research advised 

HEW that the merits of psychosurgery are 
significant and "the risks are not exces- 
sive." To date only vague guidelines exist 
to protect people from the mind-control- 
lers. The dictum of "informed consent" 
or "parental consent" offers little protec- 

Mind-controllers plan a very specific fu- 
ture for the citizens of this planet. James 
V. McConnell of the University of Michi- 
gan's Department of Mental Health Re- 
search is enthusiastic about the possibil- 
ities: The "day has come when we can 
combine sensory deprivation with drugs, 
hypnosis and astute manipulation of re- 
ward and punishment to gain almost 
absolute control over an individual's 
behavior. . . . We should reshape our so- 
ciety, so that we all would be trained from 
birth to want to do what society wants us 
to do. We have the techniques now to do 
it. . . . The techniques of behavioral con- 
trol make even the hydrogen bomb look 
like a child's toy."" 

In a society where the wants and needs 
of children, of women, of poor people, of 
lesbians and homosexual men are repudi- 
ated, in a society violent in its structure 
and by its economic nature, psychosur- 
geons are nothing more than instruments 
of torture. But it is now in this moment of 
renewed feminism, which recognizes so 
clearly the need to reclaim our own bodies 
and the full integrity of our spirit and our 
lives, that they can be stopped. Women 
acting together vigilantly and vigorously 
can end the power of all mind-controllers, 
including psychosurgeons. 

— Blanche Wiesen Cook 


1. O.J. Andy's 23 February 1973 statement appears 
on page 348 of the Hearings before the Subcom- 
mitee of the Committee of Labor and 
Public Welfare, US Senate, 93d Congress, 1st Ses- 
sion, Quality of Health Care: Human Experimen- 
tation (23 February, 6 March 1973), Part 2; see 
also O.J. Andy, "Thalamoty in Hyperactive and 
Aggressive Behavior," 'Con/in. Neurol., 32 
(1970), reprinted in Ibid., pp. 398-429— with 
related Andy articles. 

2. Mark Vernon, W. H. Sweet, and Prank Ervin, 
"Letter to the Editor: Role of Brain Disease in 
Riots and Urban Violence," American Medical 
Association Journal (March 1967) p. 895. 

3. See Mark Vernon and Frank Ervin, Violence and 
the Brain (Harper and Row, 1970). 

4. M.H. Brown quoted by Peter Breggin, "The Re- 
turn of Lobotomy and Psychosurgery," entered 
into the Congressional Record by Rep. Cornelius 
Gallagher (24 February 1972), E1602-E1612. 

5. Lindstrom quoted in Breggin, "Lobotomies Are 
Still Bad Medicine," Medical Opinion (March 
1972), reprinted in "Hearings. . . ," Quality of 
Health Care, p. 387. 

6. Ibid. 

7. Ibid., Congressional Record (24 February 1972), 
El 604. 

8. Walter Freeman, Psychosurgery (1950). See Free- 
man quoted by Breggin "Psychosurgery for the 
Control of Violence," (1972) reprinted in Hear- 
ings, pp. 440-441. 

9. Robert G. Heath, "Electrical Self-Stimulation of 
the Brain in Man," in Control of Human Behav- 
ior, Eds., R. Ulrich, T. Stachnick, and J. Mabry 
(Scott, Foresman, 1966). 

10. Jose Delgado, Physical Control of the Mind: To- 
ward a Psychocivilized Society (Harper & Row, 
1970). See also, Karen Waggoner, "Psychocivili- 
zation or Electroligarchy: Dr. Delgado's Amazing 
World of ESB," Yale University Alumni Maga- 
zine (Jan. 1970). 

11. James V. McConnell, "Criminals Can Be Brain- 
washed Now," Psychology Today (April 1970), p. 


See also Blanche Wiesen Cook's "Surveillance and 
Mind Control," in Uncloaking the CIA, Ed. Howard 
Frazier (Macmillan Free Press, 1978). 

For materials relating to mind control generally, 
and official government involvement in mind-control, 
crowd-control and drug-control experiments, see Joint 
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Health of the 
Committee of Labor and Public Welfare, U.S. Sen- 
ate, 94th Congress, 1st Session, Biomedical and Be- 
havioral Research (Sept. 10, 12; Nov. 7, 1975). 

For additional information on this subject, see: 
Stephen Chorover, "The Pacification of the Sarin," 
Psychology Today (may 1974); Constance Holder, 
"Psychosurgery or Laundered Lobotomies," Science 
(Mar. 16, 1973); Joe Hunt, "The Politics of Psycho- 
surgery," Roug/j Times (Nov. -Dec. 1973); George P. 
Anna, "Mark Denies Racism Charge, Believes Vio- 
lence Ubiquitous," Medical Tribune and Medical 
News (Jan. 2, 1974); Ruth Tebbets, "The Next Step in 
Law Enforcement: Electronic Brain Control," Pacifi- 
ca News Service (mimeo, n.d.); and Marge Piercy's 
novel, Woman on the Edge of Time. 

patterns in a way that differs from indus- 
trial economies. When an economy 
depends on intensive labor rather than 
capital, the economic and social value of 
children will be high. Women and families 
are encouraged to have many children be- 
cause they are economic assets. Birth con- 
trol is useful then for spacing births, 
rather than for limiting them. The marxist 
thus points out that no one population 
policy is applicable to all societies at all 
times, and indeed no population policy 
that overlooks the economic and social 
origins of demographic trends will be 

According to the marxist, several other 
aspects of modern population planning 
thinking are problematic. Malthusian 
economics has been shown to be faulty. 
Currently, for example, agricultural 
growth rates are higher than population 
growth rates, even in a highly fertile 
world. Thus, the premise that people will 
necessarily outstrip the food supply is in- 
correct. In addition, Malthus ignored the 
fact that in capitalist society people do not 
just eat their "piece of the pie," or occupy 
their part of the commons, but hoard 
wealth and accumulate goods or capital 
that can then be used to increase profits 
through investment. 

The concept of a "population crisis" 
has also been questioned by marxist and 
other thinkers who suggest that it serves as 
a cover for imperialist goals of Western 
countries such as the United States. The 
assumption that absolute numbers is the 
problem is contrasted with the thesis that 
the density of population accounts for 
impoverished conditions or social tension. 
In fact, an examination of population 
densities indicates that, aside from Bang- 
ladesh, density ratios are higher in West- 
ern European countries, such as the 
Netherlands and England, than in 
countries that are the current targets of 
population programs. These same critics 
suggest that if world resources were more 
fairly distributed the so-called population 
problem would disappear. Finally, there is 
no reason to assume that in a situation of 
scarcity people will seek resources only for 
themselves; in planned and cooperative 
societies sharing allows for a more equit- 
able distribution of goods. 

C. A feminist critique 
Feminist critiques of population theory 
focus on the right of women to control 
their reproductive potential and tend to 
view population control programs merely 

as a means to that end. If concerned with 
the "population problem" at all, many 
feminists suggest that the best way to 
control population is to give women alter- 
nate forms of status and satisfaction in 
life so that they do not have to have 
(many) children in order to feel important 
or legitimate in society. Emphasis is 
placed on improving a woman's status 
and increasing her social and political 
power through such institutional changes 
as improved employment and educational 
opportunities, improved health care and 
pregnancy benefits, the establishment of 
daycare centers and restructuring of the 
work world so that child care can be 
shared equally between men and women. 
In contrast, many women state strongly 
that although these changes may indeed 
decrease fertility rates, that is not a 
feminist concern: these social changes 
need to be effected to improve women's 
lot, regardless of population rates. 

That women's needs have been subor- 
dinated to other goals such as the popu- 
lation crisis is clearly evidenced by the 
abuses referred to above. Feminists are 
right to insist that not only should women 
be in control of population programs, 
since they are so often its targets, but they 
should also be involved in the develop- 
ment of birth control technologies, pro- 
grams and services, either directly or as 
consumers whose input is solicited. To 
allow women to have real choices in this 
and all other societies, they must have 
optional birth control that is safe and 
effective, as well as social legitimation of 
both childbearing and childlessness. 

In sum, a feminist critique returns 
women to center stage in the population 
field and criticizes population programs 
for either overlooking women and 
women's rights or for paying lip service to 
or co-opting women's demands without 
seriously including them in their 

D. A marxist-feminist critique 
A marxist-feminist critique of population 
planning combines aspects of the marxist 
and feminist analyses above and proposes 
a new synthesis of these approaches in an 
attempt to understand fully the obstacles 
to reproductive freedom for women to- 
day. A marxist-feminist is interested in ex- 
amining the relationship between eco- 
nomic changes throughout history and the 
development of sex roles, particularly as 
they relate to reproductive behavior. 
Women are here viewed as crucial 
elements in a complex historical process 
which aims at regulating fertility rates by 

defining sex roles in such a way as to 
increase or decrease the value of 
reproduction in a given society at a given 
time. The marxist thesis that societies of 
different economic structures require 
different quantities and patternings of 
population growth is taken as valid by a 
marxist-feminist, but more emphasis is 
placed on the role of women in this 
process. Although much of the research is 
yet to be done, we can state that our 
reading of history so far indicates that as 
the economy requires varying numbers of 
people, either to supply laborers or to 
increase consumption, constraints are 
placed on sex roles and particularly on the 
role of women to ensure that they will 
reproduce the required amount. 

An example of the application of a 
marxist-feminist analysis to a current 
social problem is the work of our Ad Hoc 
Women's Studies Committee Against 
Sterilization Abuse. We joined together 
when we discerned the rapidly growing 
threat to the reproductive rights of poor 
and minority women in the form of steri- 
lization abuse. Few middle or upper- 
middle-class women were aware that, 
while they had recently won the right to 
abortion, their sisters in the working and 
welfare classes were denied payments for 
abortions with the passage of the Hyde 
amendment and were increasingly sub- 
jected to sterilization without adequate 
knowledge of the alternatives or conse- 
quences of the procedure, i.e., without 
informed consent. Injustice in the area of 
reproductive rights demanded the atten- 
tion of our study group and compelled us 
to investigate and attempt to rectify it. 
Our study revealed that indeed population 
policy has been used to sustain and ex- 
acerbate class and racial differences in our 
society. Middle- and upper-middle-class 
women are taught to have the right 
number of children so they can afford to 
educate them to become skilled workers 
and consumers. They are given temporary 
forms of contraceptives to help them to 
space their births. Working-class and wel- 
fare mothers, who often need more 
children to ensure an adequate household 
income, are, on the other hand, forced to 
cut down their family size permanently 
through surgical sterilization (or with the 
use of birth control devices such as the 
IUD which can only be removed by a 
physician). While women of privilege cart 
afford to have multiple abortions, the 
government refuses to pay for more than 
one sterilization operation for women on 

(continued on page 73) 


photo claxra pajaczkowska 



lllilir^ is automatic to read the representation of the housewife as her .^notion within the wor! 

W^^. (delimited by the husband's] shirts, the home interior, the standards of cleanliness). The image of 1 



fcf^W^I the housewife becomes the commodity on sale. All products are Interchangeable as what is being so 


.a an attitude—a pattern of consumption. She is being offered an unambiguous function in a socia 



illlll^' order where democracy is the choice between brand names and even that choice is informed by 

en (the- gray-haired paternalist In his dark business suit, signifying his standing outside of 






>osItion as Expert)... 





How does the victimization of women serve capitalism? 

Under what circumstances is violent action by women culturally sanctioned? 

Which forms of violence does the crime rate leave unexamined? 
In whose interests is it to depict violence as the culture of poverty? 
In whose interests is it to depict women as "naturally" nonviolent? 
How come most prisoners are men; most mental patients, women? 

Is the process of armed struggle a part of the women's movement? 
i= the u<=p of firearms a reinforcement of natriarchal control? 

What is the status of terrorist groups like S.C.U.M. and W.I.T.C.H. within the movement? 

Why would Valerie Solanas want to kill Andy Warhol? 

Did your father, grasping both your wrists in one of his hands, ever keep you trapped 

until you pleaded that the game end? 

Was it your mother who told you not to take it too far or it would end in tears? 

,„ w te , »a»„,e wo m » „„e„ the —,e, » o,^.* ™ff™Z5£. 


h J 









Pop Planning 

public assistance. Discovering the contra- 
dictions in birth control policy in the U.S. 
led our study group to compose a Work- 
book on Sterilization and Sterilization 
Abuse 6 and to participate in public hear- 
ings on the issue on a local and national 

Redressing the problem of women in 
socialist and capitalist societies requires 
that economic revolutions be accompa- 
nied by a dynamic understanding of the 
relationship between structural change 
and social relations, as evidenced in the 
family, in socialization and in sex roles. 
Marxist-feminists have just begun what is 
sure to be a long and difficult analysis of 
these relationships and it is hoped that the 
problem of reproduction and the issue of 
"population" will not be slighted in this 

IV. What can women do about 

We must begin by defining the problem as 
our problem since so much of "popula- 
tion" concerns us, our roles, our bodies, 
our reproductive capacities. This in turn 
requires viewing "population" as a poli- 
tical issue that affects women of all 
classes. Defining the problem can be 
effected through analysis or through com- 
munity organization, through research or 
through political action. We need to start 
this process by talking more to each other 
about the meaning of reproduction, the 
meaning of children, the meaning of being 
or not being a parent, since every woman 
is an expert in her own right on these 

Although the possible scope of 
approaches to take is indeed unlimited, 
ranging from local to national to interna- 
tional, it seems many feminists are today 
choosing to work first on a regional level. 
Many women have begun to form local 
task forces addressing specific issues and 
to build solidarity with other women 
through affiliation with a larger network 
of task forces. In the New York area, for 
example, several small groups have chosen 
to focus on various aspects of the 
abortion struggle, and meet on a regular 
basis with a coalition organization called 
CARASA. Our collective, which started 
as an independent study group on sterili- 
zation abuse, is currently a member of 
CARASA. Other groups have formed 
around such issues as childbirth, child 
abuse, and self-help health care. 

While study groups and task forces 
create alternate institutions which offer a 
challenge and ongoing criticism to the 
establishment, there is still much to be 
done within the private and government 
agencies that fund or carry out the re- 
search and programs in the population 
field. Women interested in studying, 
teaching or researching particular aspects 
of the population question from a femin- 
ist perspective may wish to do what some 
of us have done in the past— attempt to 
work from within the population estab- 
lishment to improve women's condition. 
Although funding has decreased since the 
mid-1970's and has been channeled into 
other related areas, such as "develop- 
ment," there is still ample opportunity to 
gain financial support for fashionable 
topics (this year the fundable topics are 
"adolescent pregnancy" and "steriliza- 
tion"). Other women may wish to expand 
their own understanding of some of the 
topics discussed here and spread their 
knowledge to others in neighborhoods, 
workplaces, schools or universities. 

It is our belief that a comprehensive un- 
derstanding of the meaning of reproduc- 
tion and the politics of population leads to 
'an analysis that crosses class and cultural 
boundaries in a way that few women or 
feminists have so far achieved. It can thus 
forge an international awareness and 
strengthen ties among women around the 
world who are struggling to take back 

their bodies. 

— Susan Bram 


1. S. Schwartz Tangri,"A Feminist Perspective on 
Some Ethical Issues in Population Programs," 
Signs, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Summer 1976) pp. 895-904. 

2. L. Gordon, Woman's Body, Woman's RightXNevi 
York: Grossman, 1976). 

3. W.J. Bremnerand D.M. Kretser, "Contraceptives 
for Males," Signs, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter 1975), pp. 
387-396. P.E. Sarlwell, "Oral Contraceptives— 
Another Look," American Journal of Public 
Health, Vol. 68, No. 4, (April 1978), pp. 323-325. 
C. Tietze and S. Lewit, "Mortality and Fertility 
Control," Women & Heath, Vol. 2, No. 1 
(July/Aug. 1977), pp. 3-7. "FDA Proposes New 
Physician Labeling and Patient Guide to 1UD Ef- 
fects, Contraindications and Potential Risks," 
Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 7, No. 4 
(July/Aug. 1975), p. 149. "PID Incidence Greater 
Among IUD Users Than Nonusers But Incidence 
Still Low— About Two Percent Per Year," Family 
Planning Perspectives, Vol. 8, No. 3 (May/June 
1976), pp. 128-129. D.R. Mishell, "Assessing the 
Intrauterine Device," Family Planning Perspec- 
tives, Vol. 7, No. 3 (May/June 1975) pp. 103-111. 
"FDA Acts on Depo-provera," The Spokeswom- 
an, Vol. 8, No. 11 (May 15, 1978), p. 6. "Five 
Studies: No Apparent Harmful Effect from Legal 
Abortion on Subsequent Pregnancies, D&C is Pos- 
sible Exception," Family Planning Perspectives, 
Vol. 10, No. 1 (Jan. /Feb. 1978), pp. 34-38. B. 
Mass, Population Target: The Political Economy 
of Population Control in Latin America (Bramp- 
ton, Ontario: Charter Publishing Co. 1976). W. 
Barclay, J. Enright and R.T. Reynolds, "Popula- 
tion Control in the Third World," NACLA News- 
letter, Vol. IV, No. 8 (Dec. 1970), pp. 1-18. B. 
Segal and H. Hamelstein, "Connecting Women 
with Population Policy," World Citizen/Federalist 
Letter, Vol. XX, No. 6 (Sept. 1974). "Blame MD 
'Mismanagement' for Contraceptive Failure," 
Family Planning Perspectives, Vol. 8, No. 2 
(March/April 1976), pp. 72-76. Centre for Eco- 
nomic & Social Information/OPI for the World 
Population Conference, United Nations, Action 
taken at Bucharest (Nov. 1974). 

4 . G. Hardin, Editorial, Science, Vol. 172(1971), p. 


5 . S. Wishik, "The Use of Incentives for Fertility 

Reduction," American Journal of Public Health, 
Vol. 68, No. 2 (Feb. 1976), p. 113. 

6 . Ad Hoc Women's Studies Committee Against 

Sterilization Abuse, Workbook on Sterilization & 
Sterilization Abuse (Bronxville, N.Y.: Sarah Law- 
rence College, 1978). 
General Bibliography 

The Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Our 
Bodies, Ourselves (New York: Simon and Schuster, 
1976). Also available in French and Spanish. 
Caress, Barbara. "Sterilization," Health Pac Bulletin, 
62 (Jan. /Feb. 1975). 

Caress, Barbara. "Sterilization Guidelines," Health 
Pac Bulletin, 65 (July/Aug. 1975). 
Chase, Allen. The Legacy ofMalthus: the Social Costs 
oflthe New Scientific Racism (New York: Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1977). 

Corea, Gena. "The Hidden Malpractice," How 
American Medicine Treats Women as Patients and 
Professionals (New York: William Morrow, 1977) 
Gordon, Linda. Woman's Body, Woman's Right; A 
Social History of Birth Control in America (New 
York: Grossman Publishers, 1976). 
Kelly, Joan. "Review of Population Target (Mass, 
1977)" Chrysalis, Vol. 4 (Winter 1977/1978). 
Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 15 (Fall 1977). 
Littlewood, Thomas. The Politics of Population 
Control (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame 
Press, 1977). 

Mass, Bonnie. Population Target: The Political 
Economy of Population Control in Latin America 
(Toronto: The 'Women's Prcs, 1977). 
Rodriguez-Trias, Helen. "Sterilization Abuse," The 
Women's Center Reid Lectureship. (New York: 
Barnard College Women's Center, 1978, $1.00). 
Seaman, Barbara, and Seaman, Gideon. Women and 
the Crisis in Sex Hormones (New York: Rawson 
Associates, 1,977). 


There are, by conservative estimates, 
250,000 homeworkers in Great Britain. 
These workers are mainly women with 
young children who do piece work at 
home. They may paint toy animals, sew 
tassels on football scarves, card buttons, 
assemble fire extinguishers, carry out 
pregnancy tests. They usually work longer 
hours than a full-time office or factory 

worker and still earn less than a quarter of 
an average weekly salary. Because of their 
isolation from one another and from their 
employers, homeworkers have not been 
able to organize (save in a few cases) for 
higher pay rates, job security, benefits. 
Labor laws ignore them, but the capital- 
ists do not. They are a source of cheap 

. ,.„..S§IP1 

"This work was in many ways a collective 
effort. 1 worked with others in the field, 
notably with a woman trade unionist and 
with the London Homeworking Cam- 
paign. But I was the only one who had a 
specific interest in bringing it into an art 
gallery — a gallery in Battersea which is sit- 
uated in the London heartland of home- 
working. In June of this year, the work 
went to the National Conference of the 
G & MWU (General and Municipal Work- 
ers Union) and so to a different audience. 
(At Battersea, it was visited mainly by art- 
ists, women, and homeworkers.) Its use 
was different in that it served to reinforce 
the campaign for more union action for 
homeworker legislation. The exhibition is 
now available to other groups: feminists, 
artists, galleries, homework campaign 
groups, labour history groups. 

"In working on this project, I discov- 
ered I related to the situation very 
personally: not only do I have children 
and find it a constant battle to organize 
nurseries, etc. in order to work, but as an 
artist, the situation was very familiar. The 
work is done in between other responsibil- 
ities, from the home, with no protection, 
and, as far as Social Security is concerned, 
no profession." 

— Margaret Harrison 


RATES OF PAY 1975-1978 


National Average Weekly Wage £5.61 
Homeworkers National Average 

Hourly Rate 12P 

Type of Work Paymen 

t per Hour 

Knitting Gloves 


Assembling' Fire-Extinguishers 


Typing Labels 

45 P 

Sewing Plastic Pants 


Tying Wire to Fishing Hooks 

30. 7P 

Jewellery Repair 


Assembling Watch Straps 


Making Toy Bricks 


Assembling Lipstick Cases 


Crocheting Palms and 

Backs of Mittens 


Finishing Socks 


Making Sea Fern into 

Decorative Bunches 


Making Washers for Use 

in Sewers 


Xmas Cake Frills and 

Wedding Cake Bags 


Packing Jewellery 


Crocheting Baby Bonnets 


Cardboard Box Assembly 


Knitting or Crochet Work 


Hand Crocheting Baby Jackets 
Repairing Books of Stamps 
Envelope Addressing 
Knitting Icelandic Sweaters 
Inserting Leaflets into 

Income Tax Forms 
Making Gloves 
Tasseling Football Scarves 
Making Leather Notecases 
Filling Fireworks 
Packing Gas Mantles 
Painting Toy Animals 
Painting Toy Footballers 
Making Gloves (Highest Rate) 
Packing Vacuum Cleaning 

Pregnancy Testing 
Making Cardboard Boxes 
Making Soft Toys 
Sewing on Motifs 
Carding Buttons 

Putting in Jewels & 15P, 
K TEL Hair Magicians — 

K TEL Assembly Stunt Kites 
Packing Save Children 

Stamps & Jubilee Stamps 



28. 7P 

9. IP 


3P per 100 





30P, 40P 



TffiiBm tftilll 


fti H§ 


"One week you would get thousands to 
do, the next nothing, you just had to take 
it when it was available. If you com- 
plained they just said, 'If you can't do it 
we can get someone else.' " 

"I know I am a fool to do this, but I have 
to work at home and I have no choice but 
to agree to the bosses' terms." 

"I usually earned about £7 per week. If I 
worked very hard I got £12. I asked him so 
many times for more money but he said 
'take it or leave it— there are lots of other 
ladies who want to do the work.' " 

"I find the job of painting these tiny little 
figures in the manner required a severe 
strain on my eyesight and sanity. But I 
have three children and I need the money 
and I can only work at home." 

"You do what you are given— I'd chuck it 
over the canal bridge if I could but I could 
never get another job." 


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Many processes employing outworkers, 
including those with significant risks, are 
not included in the health and safety pro- 
visions. For example, it has been found 
recently that work involving handling of 
radioactive thorium has been given to out- 
workers without any obligation by the em- 
ployers to warn of the dangers. 

Mrs. Brewster carding buttons for Samuel 
Johnson & Sons Ltd. of Brixton 

Mrs. Brewster used>to have between 4,000 
to 6,000 buttons per week to sew on to 
cards. The rates vary from 73 pence to 
£1.30 pence per 1,000, Mrs. Brewster's 
highest rate was £1.09 per 1,000. She usu- ' 
ally worked over 36 hours a week and her 
earnings were between £4.00 & £6.00. She 
often had to sit up sewing until midnight 
in order to finish in time. The company 
supplied cotton and rubber bands but not 
needles. The job involved sorting buttons, 
getting cards into sets of 10, and carding. 
Mrs. Brewster took on the work after she 
gave up a full-time job to look after her 
son and his little boy. The buttons go to a 
variety of outlets including Woolworth's 
chain store and to Holland and Germany. 




o 1 

The truth is that no place is safe. It seems clear to say that women should not hitchhike: 
seventeen of the eighty-six [raped during Three Weeks in May] were raped while accept- 
ing or offering a ride to a stranger or acquaintance. But twenty-one were raped at night 
in their own homes. Should we not stay home either? We all know not to walk late at 
night: thirteen of the eighty-six were raped while doing so — and twenty-three were raped 
on the streets in broad daylight! One woman was raped by her bus driver when she fell 
asleep before the end of the route, another at five o'clock in the afternoon as she sat in 
her office. Women are offered help when their cars break down and are raped instead. 
Women are offered medicine when they are sick and are raped instead. Women go to 
parties with men they think are friends and end up gang-raped instead. It's clear from 
the facts of the map, it's clear from the reality of women who speak out, that there is no 
privileged or protected group of women . . . 
— Statement to the press during Three Weeks in May 

We are here because we want you to know that we know that these ten women are not 
isolated cases of random unexplainable violence. That this violence wreaked upon them 
is not different, except perhaps in degree and detail, from all of the daily real-life 
reports which reach the news media, from those fictionalized mutilations shown by our 
entertainment industries, and from the countless unreported cases of brutalization of 
our relatives, friends and loved ones who are women ... 

— Statement to the press during //; Mourning and In Rage . . . 

It is predictable in this time of acknowledged backlash against feminism that 
violence toward women is increasing. As feminists realize the importance of 
this issue, we find ourselves knocking at the very threshold of an authoritarian 
patriarchy. Violence is the critical point around which the position of women 
revolves: it is the final expression of a system that feels its power threatened. 
We have seen into the institutionalized violence of gynecology, forced marriage 
and motherhood, psychiatry and incarceration. Now we are becoming aware of 
the role of so-called random and individual acts of violence in the systematic 
terrorization of women. We are more than the scapegoats for frustration within 
the social system. Our bodies are manipulated by the patriarchy as a battlefield 
for the diversion of attention away from economic systems which are them- 
selves predicated on and preserved by violence. 

Through the sobering confrontation with the politics of violence, women are 
educating themselves to the strategies necessary for revolutionary change. Col- 
lective action and pooling resources are important prestrategic acts for those of 
us whose first concern is saving the physical bodies of women. As artists we 
work with the issue of violence as source material, using feminist ideology to 
shape forms necessary for changing culture. These forms involve the collective 
action of many women artists and non-artists, working to "break the silence" 
and create solutions to violence. 

Last year we introduced a course in feminist social art to a group of women 
at the Feminist Studio Workshop and discovered that before the formal con- 
cerns and political ideology that structured our work could be comprehended, 
these women had to go through a developmental process that would link them 
personally with a broad public art form. The "expanding self" became a 
metaphor for the process of moving the boundaries of one's identity outward 
to encompass other women, groups of women and eventually all people. 
Powerful feminist political art comes from such personal and spiritual connec- 
tion to the world. Our approach in this article, as well as in our educational 
activities, is to make manifest the process by which we personally arrived at a 
public statement of our feminism through art. 1 First we will describe how our 
different individual developments brought us to similar aesthetic and political 
conclusions. These ideas were shared and refined during our work of the past 
year: Three Weeks in May, Record Companies Drag Their Feet, and In 
Mourning and In Rage . . . 

(continued on page 78, 79) 

The Imagery of Laundresses in 19th Century French Culture 

Physical violence is the easiest kind to 
identify. It is blatant, direct and can be 
responded to. But what of invisible vio- 
lence, rendered over time, subtly, insidi- 
ously? What of the forms of psychological 
and social violence that descend upon us 
so silently, stealthily? In psychological 
language, violence is so disguised that it 
often goes by the name of "love." 

Love and violence [says R.D. Laing] are 
polar opposites. Love lets the other be, 
but with affection and concern. Violence 
attempts to constrain the other's freedom, 
to force him [sic] to act in the way we 
desire, but with ultimate lack of concern, 
with indifference to the other's own 
existence or destiny. 

We are effectively destroying ourselves 
by violence masquerading as love. 1 

In the social arena, violence is institution- 
alized as "culture," "our heritage." The 
implication is that that heritage is univer- 
sal — for all of us, by all of us. But that's a 
lie and one which permeates and violates 
every aspect of our existence. That heri- 
tage, for example, tells us that capitalism 
is good, socialism bad and unnatural; that 
men are not maternal; that women can't 
think abstractly; that coal miners' are 
dumb. It is a society's ideologies that dis- 
guise and codify social violence. "Ideolo- 
gy is an outlook," says Alan Wallach, 
"that somehow corresponds to or serves 
to advance the interests of a ruling class, 
that is, an outlook that is class-determined 
. . . ideology is class domination in the 
realm of ideas." 2 Cornelius Castoriadis 
elucidates ideology as: "an invocation of 
fictive entities, pseudo-rational construc- 
tions and abstract principles which, con- 
cretely, justify and hide a social-historical 
practice whose true signification lies else- 
where." 3 

It is crucial to note here that there is a 
kernel of truth in ruling-class ideologies, 
and it is that bit of truth that guarantees 
the tyranny. For example, if we look at the 

ideology of capitalism we find that it per- 
suades us that competition is natural, and 
that everyone can compete equally. Each 
statement seems to be at least a little true. 
And both the truth and the lie can be lo- 
cated in the material realities of capital- 
ism. Women, for example, can compete 
for most jobs, but they certainly will not 
get them, and for the work they do find 
they will be underpaid. 

Since it is in the interest of capitalism to 
parade its ostensible belief in freedom, the 
competitive element is stressed, the stric- 
tures on freedom ignored or denied. And 
what we are left with is a bewildering set of 
experiences in which our primary sense of 
constricted freedom is belied by the cul- 
ture's myths. We are led to distrust our 
instincts which tell us that we are unfree 
because, after all, there does seem to be 
some freedom. Because of that bit of free- 
dom, that kernel of truth, we become un- 
sure of our ability to comprehend, and 
faith in our own perceptual apparatus is 

Long before I understood the meaning 
of "ideology," I had unwittingly begun to 
observe and remark its machinations in 
my research as an art historian. I was 
working on Degas and his social milieu 
and was particularly interested in how his 
upper-class status affected the transfor- 
mation of social realities in his art. That is, 
I wondered how his wealth and customs, 
for example, affected his view of laundres- 
ses, milliners, dancers, prostitutes and so 
forth. In order to assess his transforma- 
tion, I began to do extensive research on 
contemporary labor realities. The first 
profession I investigated was laundering. I 
found that the realities of the trade were 
far indeed from any visual depictions that 
I found either by Degas or the myriad 
other artists who depicted the subject. 

By the end of the 19th century there 

were a few factory-size laundries in 

1 France, but the majority of shops were still 

small, with one to four workers. Women 
were employed almost exclusively. Al- 
though a law of 1900 fixed a 10-hour day 
for all women and children under 18, fam- 
ily establishments could not be monitored, 
and so in the small shops the women con- 
tinued to work up to 15 and even 18 hours 
a day, rising at 5 A.M. and working till 11 
P.M. 4 

Unemployment was chronic. And when 
laundresses worked it was backbreaking 
and paid little. Ironers maneuvered 
5-pound irons in devastating heat; washer- 
women trudged through the city balancing 
20 pounds of linen on their hips. The 
ironers were the better paid and more 
regularly employed of the two; they were 
the artisans or skilled laborers of the trade. 

In 1881 a laundress earned an average of 
3.25 francs a day. Milliners and women's 
tailors earned between 5 and 10 francs; 
embroiderers, 4.25; lacemakers, 3; seam- 
stresses, 2; unskilled chemical match- 
makers and candlemakers, 1.25 to 1.50 
francs; a doctor with a modest income, 20 
francs; and an owner of a cotton-spinning 
factory, five thousand francs. 5 How spe- 
cifically did laundresses live on their 
income? Here is an estimate for a woman 
working 260 days at 3.75 francs a day (975 
francs a year): 


670.00 francs 









Heating and Lighting 






1175.25 6 

(The average worker's daily diet consisted 
of two eggs, boiled beef, bread and wine. 7 ) 
She needs 200.25 more francs to meet her 
expenses. How was she to make it up? 
With savings? Hardly. She went into 

Her pay was not mitigated by her work 
(continued on page 79) 

SJ C* N 4 






pa =. 

Leslie Labowitz: 

It was through Menstruation-Wail, my 
first performance coming out of a female 
consciousness, that I became a feminist. 
Prior to this performance my work had 
been consistent with the concerns of the 
sixties, an involvement with formal art 
problems rather than content. Early in my 
career I began to see that to evolve fully as 
an artist I had to free myself from the ef- 
fects societal taboos and conditioning had 
on my life. This process of self-realization- 
began with Menstruation-Wait. The first 
Wait took place in Los Angeles in 1971, 
the second in the entrance hall of the art 
academy in Dusseldorf, West Germany in 
1972. The audience in Germany was any- 
one who walked by me, mostly art stud- 
ents, teachers and artists. I confronted the 
audience directly through my physical 
presence. In so doing I attempted to break 
down myths about menstruation as well as 
myths about women artists. Primarily, I 
wanted to reach women art students with 
the intention of creating a dialogue about 
their situation in the academy. The audi- 
ence reaction during both the L.A. and 
Germany performances taught me that 
the expression of women's experience was 
not acceptable even in art. The L.A. audi- 
ence was shocked. The German audience 
was rude at times (hanging painted red 
rags on my backdrop), but stimulating to 
the further evolution of my emerging pol- 
itics. All the women consciously ignored 
me, except for two, who were later to 
organize one of the first women's art 
groups in Germany. The men were openly 
responsive. Though they avoided the 
direct feminist content, they questioned 
me as to how menstruation fit into a poli- 
tical class analysis. 

These questions were important as they 
began my personal exploration of femi- 
nism and the role of economics and art in 
a capitalist society. The five years I spent 
in Germany from 1972-77 provided excep- 
tional opportunities for an introduction to 
Marxism and "political thinking" unlike 
anything comparable in the U.S. 

Living in the intense political climate of 
Europe, particularly in the educational 
institutions (including art institutions) 
resulted in a radical change in my life as 
well as my work. 

I discovered political art and found it to 
be an integral part of European art history 
and tradition. Kollwitz, Heartfield, 
Brecht, Grosz, Beckmann, Beuys and 
Staeck were just a few of the artists avail- 
able for the study of important and effec- 


tive political art activity. Their imprint on 
me was especially great because I saw that 
this kind of work could only be fully com- 
prehended by living in the political and 
social environment out of which these 
artists came. Because of my own personal 
interest in performance art as an expres- 
sion of women's experience it was the 
Russian Constructivists 6 who most influ- 
enced my vision of how performance 
could be a political art form. Their con- 
cern with the social role of art and the 
artist's connection to a political struggle 
seemed appropriately close to feminist 
ideology and the art coming out of the 
movement. The large-scale monumental 
street works, often collaborative, and the 
innovative direction of performance in the 
public sphere (streets, factories, schools) 
symbolized the kind of synthesis between 
art and politics I wanted to move toward. 

There was no visible feminist art in Ger- 
many in 1972, but the seeds were being 
planted within a well-organized network 
of radical feminist groups throughout the 
country. Like myself, these women were 
influenced by the artists I have men- 
tioned. Within the already politically con- 
scious feminist groups the ties to working- 
class women and housewives were deep- 
rooted. The art that was beginning to 
come out reflected those ties. The direc- 
tion of the development of women's cul- 
ture was very different from that in the 
U.S. although these women were certainly 
influenced by the "personal" approach 
that began the movement here. 

After Menstruation- Wait I consciously 
moved out of the art world and began 
teaching art at a German Gymnasium. My 
first actual connection with a women's 
community began there with a class of 
young women. While I initially saw teach- 
ing as an alternative activity to art, it was 
here that I found the basis for the art form 
characteristic of the direction my work 
would take in the future. I guided the class 
through collaborative performances based 
on a critical analysis of fashion and 
makeup. We made costumes, masks, col- 
lages, as performance props. These pieces 
were private but were filmed and shown 

Recognizing the potential for perform- 
ance to politicize its participants as well as 
its audience, I started thinking about a 
model for its use as a public political art 
form. This model was based on the prem- 
ise that the interaction of art and politics 

(continued on page 80) 

g%vs* : ('\oW»';s'-- 

Leslie Labowitz. Menstruation/Wait. Oct. 4- 
9, 1971. Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles, Cal. 
Dec. 9-12, 1971. Entrance hall, Art Akadamie, 
Dusseldorf, West Germany. 

I sat cross-legged on the floor of the public 
space dressed in black and white. The audience 
walked by me entering the intimate sphere of 
"the female" I had established. I expressed my 
physical and emotional experiences as they oc- 
curred. If 1 felt like crying 1 did so; if hungry, 1 
ate. This information was recorded by hand on 
a backdrop along with audience reaction, the 
memory of my mother telling me about men- 
struation and information on the physiological 
and psychological effects of the birth control 
pill. The Wait continued until 1 started my 

Paragraph 218 by Leslie Labowitz was per- 
formed at the City Hall in Boln the evening 
before the supreme court judges voted on rein- 
stating the law making abortion illegal in West 
Germany. The performance was part of an en- 
tire program put on by a women's organiza- 
tion, which included songs, speakers and leaf- 
letting. Some 500 men and women participated 
by holding up torches to light the performance 
area. Three women, dressed in black pointed 
hoods and capes and holding signs with the 
number 218 handprinted on them, stood ele- 
vated on a portable stage; they represented the 
brotherhood of a male society, the German su- 
preme court judges. Two women in red hoods 
stood lower, to the side of judges. A woman in 
street clothes entered the performance area and 
approached the judges. "Why can't anybody 
hear me?" she screamed. The two figures in 
red began wrapping her from feet to head with 
white gauze. A bucket of red paint was thrown 
on her as she knelt. A woman in a short skirt 
and heels carried a six-foot-long gold penis on 
stage, handed it to the judges, who elevated it 
erect and then threw it to the audience. It broke 

Suzanne Lacy: 

Ablutions provided one of the first art 
vehicles for the portrayal of women's ex- 
periences of violence. During the previous 
year Judy Chicago and I had gathered the 
shocking and painful testimonials of 
women who had experienced rape. With 
Sandra Orgel and Aviva Rahmani we 
worked to create a performance on rape. 
In that time of the emerging feminist 
movement, we felt our most politically 
powerful art act would be to reveal this 
hidden experience, a substratum of horror 
obscured by the prevailing myth that no 
woman could be raped "against her will." 
The strategy behind this first piece was to 
convince the audience of the reality of the 
problem, and to initiate a cultural context 
that would allow women to speak out 
about sexual assaults. 

Ablutions began as a collection of oral 
histories. For me the translation of this 
sociological information into art marked a 
synthesis of my past education in psychol- 
ogy, my experiences in feminist organizing 
and my artmaking. I was not personally 
satisfied with feminist organizing at the 
grass roots level or within the professional 
community, as both seemed to take 
energy without nourishing me. At Fresno 
I met Judy Chicago and entered the Femi- 
nist Art Program. In this openly expres- 
sive and highly demanding space I learned 
that the creation of art, no matter how 
painful the subject matter, replenished me 
as no direct political activity had done. 
The act of making art somehow mitigated 
the pain of much of the experience with 
which we dealt. 

Our first performance work, almost al- 
ways collaborative, presented our newly 
emerged world-view to audiences whose 
ideas about women's lives were often dia- 
metrically opposed to ours. Our audiences 
consisted largely of college students and 
faculty, and at first it was a struggle to 
make our ideas comprehensible to even 
these small groups. Clarity of communica- 
tion was desperately important, and this 
need structured the development of our 
form language, one which included the 
audience as an instrumental and powerful 
part of the artist's creation. We more than 
wanted to be understood, we needed it: 
we were, after all, describing our own 
lives. Ablutions was a large step for us, 
one in which for the first time we ad- 
dressed the professional art community in 
Los Angeles with what had become a 
strong political statement in art. 

(continued on page 81) 

conditions; they were ghastly! Although 
one art critic described laundry shops as 
"clean-smelling shops gaily decorated 
with hanging gown, shirts, sheets and 
towels," 9 that was a fiction. The shops 
were stiflingly hot, and were incubators of 
disease. Ninety out of every 100 laundres- 
ses lived in two rooms; one where they 
ironed, the other where they slept. Quar- 
ters were cramped, living conditions un- 
healthy. In the majority of cases there was 
no kitchen; food was prepared and eaten 
in the rooms where dirty laundry was 
counted, marked, sorted and later ironed. 
The stench was awful. Dust and other par- 
ticles released during sorting contaminat- 
ed the air, which was constantly heated by 
the furnace which kept the irons hot. 10 
Emile Zola in L'Assommoir evokes the 
slow heat of the work day: 

By now the really hot weather had 
begun. One June afternoon, a Saturday 
when there was a lot of urgent work, Ger- 
vaise herself stoked the stove up with 
coke, and there were ten irons heating 
round the roaring flue-pipe . . . The heat 
was enough to kill you. The street door 
had been left open, but not a breath of air 
came in . . . all sounds had stopped and in 
the oppressive silence the only thing to be 
heard was the dull thud of irons. 

The incidence of disease was staggering. 
Laundresses were chronically ill with TB, 
bronchitis and inflammation of the abdo- 
men and throat. 12 Because the law was 
powerless to affect small family-run 
businesses, it was healthier, paradoxically, 
to work in a factory than in a small shop. 

Laundresses also suffered from alcohol- 
ism, as did workers in general. The women 
felt they needed strong drink to fortify 
them while they worked, and employers, 
in order, they believed, to increase the 
ironer's output, provided stimulants like 
wine and brandy. 13 Laundresses began 
drinking at 11 A.M. and continued all 
day. Wine merchants encouraged the 
washerwomen by setting up canteens at 
the door of public wash-houses and some- 

times within the wash-houses them- 
selves. '4 It is said that these women "died 
at about fifty or sixty, worn out by 
chronic drinking, general paralysis, or 
acute rheumatism." 15 

Lacking memoirs or any other writing 
by the laundresses themselves, the most 
reliable sources of information are the 
labor reports. 16 One would be tempted, 
however, to consider also as data the many 
paintings, prints, photos and stories about 
laundresses. That would be a mistake. For 
these artifacts of middle-class culture de- 
pict a laundress we would hardly recog- 

Art salons in Paris from 1865 to the end 
of the century regularly exhibited paint- 
ings with such titles as The Little Laun- 
dresses, The Queen of the Laundresses, 
Wash-house in the Park of Grandbourg. 
The laundresses depicted are dexterous 
but more emphatically they are sexually al- 
luring. (See Edouard Menta's Blanchis- 
seuse (Laundress), 1892, and 

Edouard Zier's La Petite Repasseuse 
Repassait (The Little Ironer Ironing), 
1887.) The emphasis is continually on the 
intimate nature of the work they do- 
undergarments and bedclothes abound. 
Also, ostensibly because of the work con- 
ditions, the women are in a state of semi- 
undress. The details of the painting are 
more or less suggestive, and one begins to 
sense that the apparent hard work is only a 
foil for disclosing intimate details of the 
women's anatomy. The implicit sexual 
content of these works is made explicit by 
more popular prints such as La Repas- 
seuse (The Ironer) of 1837 in which an old 
woman enters, surprising a younger wom- 
an ironer who has just (none too success- 
fully) hidden a suitor under the bed. 

Contemporary literature found the 
laundress equally beguiling. In 1877 Zola 
published L'Assommoir. The popularity 
of the book was due not merely to the 
attention paid to working-class life and the 
ravages of alcoholism, but also to the titil- 
lating nature of the material in general. 
The novel told the story of Gervaise, a 
laundress, whose taste for good food and 

(continued on page 81) 

Leslie Labowitz: 

could facilitate the collective expression of 
large groups of people, activating them 
toward social change. The performance 
would work on the level of public ritual, 
uniting participants and a mass audience 
in a spiritual bond that creates community 
by politicizing its members. 

I saw the model as having five compo- 
nents: collaboration with a political 
organization; use of the skilled artist as 
director/organizer; a focus on issues of 
current concern; use of the language of 
the audience addressed and economic ac- 
cessibility of materials. 

Paragraph 218 became the actualization 
of this model. I had joined a feminist 
organization in Bonn working on the 
legalization of abortion in Germany. I was 
asked to participate with an art action at a 
rally. I seemed appropriate to focus on a 
public performance about abortion be- 
cause that topic was heavily covered by 
German media; we would have an oppor- 
tunity to present a feminist perspective on 
the issue. Seven women participated with 
me in the actualization of the piece. I 
directed and performed. 

218 was my first attempt in an art 
framework to use a language that could be 
understood by a general audience. The use 
of clear, direct images was to avoid mis- 
interpretation. The use of work images as 
backdrops and signs woven throughout 
aided the making of direct political state- 
ments because of their informational 
quality. Their contrast with strong visual 
images compressed information and 
heightened the activity, shortening the 
length of the piece, which was about 10 
minutes long. 

This is much the same technique used in 
current mass media, particularly in adver- 
tising, but the content of 218 was not 
slick, simplistic or manipulative. Adver- 
tising tries to sell on highly sophisticated 
subliminal levels while as an artist, con- 
scious of the power of images, I wanted to 
communicate a totally different kind of 
information on a much deeper level. The 
performance was therefore to be experi- 
enced differently than the way the usual 
bombardment of visual information in 
daily media is experienced. 

The audience was mostly women. It was 
very emotional, many women crying si- 
lently. After it was over, there was a 
period of silence where our spiritual con- 
nection could be felt throughout the 
The use of materials that were acces- 


sible economically, easy to locate and re- 
cyclable made it possible to produce the 
piece for about $25.00. The materials for 
the props were black and red paper, red, 
white and gold paint, white gauze and 
plaster. They gave it a raw quality that I 
hoped would reflect events that grow out 
of a community's immediate need to ex- 
press itself. 

Coming to L.A. in 1977, I was intent on 
continuing the public work on women's 
issues. In Europe I had let my defenses 
down and felt almost no fear about 
walking through the streets at night. I 
knew that coming back meant I would 
have to begin building those defenses back 
up — rape being the highest rising crime in 
the U.S. I am angry and resentful of this 
situation, particularly in L.A. where it is 
said one out of three women will be raped 
in their lifetime. My meeting with 
Suzanne, the strong feminist community 
and the Woman's Building have given me 
the support needed to expand into the 
scale of the current work presented. 

One Woman Shows was a performance 
structure in which women could perform acts 
of self-naming for each other. A temporary 
community was formed by word of mouth, 
chain-letter fashion: I chose three women for 
whom I wanted to perform; they chose three, 
who each chose three, etc. We met to perform 
together on an opening night at the Woman's 
Building. The audience viewed the perform- 
ance from a roped-off space to the rear of the 
gallery. The performers sat together and faced 
me as I began the first piece, naming myself as 
the woman who is raped, the woman who is a 
whore and the woman who loves women. Then 
the three women 1 had invited moved to differ- 
ent parts of the space with their invited partici- 
pants and began performing simultaneously. 
From one dramatic event the activity mush- 
roomed into several simultaneous rituals. As 
the loss of boundaries between individual 
pieces increased, the audience was left with the 
experience of the warmth, hilarity and intensity 
of women relating to each other. The perform- 
ance continued throughout the month, with 
each performer leaving her "traces" on the 

Collaboration by Suzanne Lacy, Judy Chicago, Aviva Rahmani and Sandra Orgel. Ablutions 
1972. Venice, Cal. 

The performance space was strewn with egg shells, piles of rope and fresh meat. In the center 
three galvanized tubs were filled with eggs, blood and clay. The audience entered to hear a tape- 
recording of women telling the stories of their rapes. The tape continued as one woman was 
methodically bound from head to foot with white gauze. Another slowly nailed beef kidneys into 
the wall, thus describing the perimeter of the space. Two nude women bathed first in the eggs, then 
in the blood, finally in the clay. Two clothed women bound the performance set and other per- 
formers into immobility with string and rope— leaving the space as the tape repeated, "and 1 felt so 
helpless all I could do was just lie there ..." 

Suzanne Lacy: 

This audience, composed mostly of 
contemporary men artists and women art- 
ists newly exposed to the ideas of feminist 
art, received the piece in shocked silence. 
From later reports we found that many 
viewers were unable to process what they 
had seen and heard for several months, so 
disparate was the information about rape 
in the piece from that available in the 
general culture. For several years after 
Ablutions feminist performance art re- 
ceived little attention from the broad art 

In the Woman's Building, 2 perform- 
ance was nurtured in the educational pro- 
grams at the Feminist Studio Workshop, 
where it was used as a consciousness- 
raising and educative tool as well as 
becoming a personal art form for several 
young artists. 3 Audiences were once again 
small, but being left out of critical 
observation by the art community had its 
benefits: we were able to develop our 
ideas in a supportive environment, and we 
began the development of a feminist audi- 
ence for our work. Given the feminist 
political concern for changing culture, 
however, it was natural that women's per- 
formance art would soon evolve in the di- 
rection of expanding the breadth of its 

Three years after Ablutions I created 
One Woman Shows in which I made the 
performance art process directly available 
to women outside of the art community." 
My personal concern for violence was still 
intact, but the feminist educational ex- 
perience had shifted my thinking toward 
structures allowing for the participation 
of artists and non-artists together in per- 
formance. In our analyses of forms of op- 
pression we had begun to realize that the 
separation of artist from society resulted 
in a neutralizing of the social power of art. 
One Woman Shows was created as a 
framework for the expression of multiple 
voices. 5 Like a patchwork quilt in which 
many women's labor and images are sewn 
into the fabric of one cover, the piece was 
designed so that each woman's unique 
image, seen in a single space, created a 
collaborative expression of the burgeon- 
ing women's community. In this piece (as 
well as in quilt making) the form of crea- 
tion is as important to our women's cul- 
ture as the content of the work itself. Like 
consciousness-raising in which each wom- 
an has her space, professional artists per- 
formed simultaneously with women who 
had never made art. Personal ritual, per- 

formed in concert in a public space, its 
privacy intact, gave voice to the form of 
feminist interaction. The very strength of 
our movement lay in the quality of our 
interaction, and performance provided an 
affirmation of the collective whole. 

I was not directly aware that including 
equal participation of women who were 
not artists was a move in the direction of 
broadening audience. In fact, for two 
years I ignored the piece because I thought 
it too didactic and political to be "good 
art." Looking back, however, I can trace 
many of the formal elements of Three 
Weeks in May to this piece. 


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(continued on page 82, 83) 

drink led her to moral degradation, sexual 
promiscuity and financial ruin. Gervaise 
so lost her moral compass that she slept in 
turns under the same roof and before her 
daughter's eyes, with both her former 
lover and her husband. In addition, Zola's 
readers were treated to such workshop epi- 
sodes as robust ironers undressing in hot 
weather, stunning male passersby with a 
"vision of bare-breasted women in a red- 
dish mist." 17 Significantly, L'Assommoir 
was Zola's first popular success— a success 
which also firmly established the publish- 
ing house of Charpentier. 

Even popular histories like Octave 
Uzanne's La Femme a Paris (1894) dwelt 
in a titillating manner on laundresses who 
are described as 

clean, coquettish, and often really 
pretty ... It cannot be said that their 
souls are as immaculate as the linen 
they iron. These girls have a shocking 
reputation for folly and grossness . . . 
They haunt the outskirts of the city, 
are inveterate dancers, descend some- 
times to the lowest forms of prostitu- 
tion, and are also given to drink. 
They do not hesitate sometimes to 
pawn their clients' linen to pay for 
some piece of dissipation. 18 

George Montorgeuil, a contemporary 
writer of manners, concurs on their easy 
virtue and wonders in Le Cafe-concert 
(1893) whether they aren't deserting their 
own profession to join the even looser one • 
of cafe-concert dancers. 19 So pervasive- 
ly was a laundress thought of as a sexual 
object that even the fledgling photography 
business capitalized on it. (See the stero- 
scopic photograph.) 

Those who examine the vision com- 
municated by the paintings, prints, novels, 
etc., naturally tend to believe it. However, 
after one becomes familiar with the labor 
data, the cultural images look at best one- 
sided, and at worst completely distorting. 
Left-wing contemporary critics of L'As- 
sommoir were quick to realize this. Some 
criticized Zola "for slandering the people, 
for representing the working classes as a 
gang of drunks and laggards. 20 Arthur 
Ranc in 1877 called Zola "a bourgeois in 
the worst sense of the word. He has for the 
people a bourgeois contempt, doubled by 
an artist's contempt . . . Never has he 
presented manual work as other than 
repugnant." 21 

Clearly, a discrepancy existed between 
the labor data and the cultural phenome- 
non. Why did the essential facts of 

(continued on page 85) 



Three Weeks in May 7 was a process image doc- 
umenting the repeated sexual assaults against 
women in Los Angeles from reports gathered 
daily from the Los Angeles Police Department. 
The decision to place the maps in a public site 
was critical to the subsequent structure of the 
piece, as it brought the question of responsibili- 
ty to the audience into the aesthetic design. The 
rape map itself was an effective consciousness- 
raiser for those who watched its ominous pro- 
gress, but to allow it to stand as the sole image 
of the piece would be to portray only the con- 
tinuing victimization of women. A second map 
focused on what was being done by listing 
phone numbers of rape prevention and inter- 
vention agencies. These maps were the central 
image around which the performance structure 
of three weeks of activities was created. 

Going into the public sphere added to the 
piece the awareness of multiple communities 
and their possible roles in social art. Members 
of the "community" of government employees 
and officials were instrumental in installing the 
maps as well as publicizing the piece. 

Governmental Support 

The maps were placed in downtown Los An- 
geles, as it is the center of activity for the city, 
housing government organizations, large busi- 
nesses, and shopping complexes. I approached 
two large shopping complexes, hoping that 
placement there would ensure large audiences 
and the use of organizational facilities. One re- 
fused ostensibly due to prior scheduling and the 
other more forthrightly objected to the 
"controversial subject matter. " It was clear 
they did not want women shoppers to be troub- 
led by thoughts of rape. 

By chance I found a supportive City Com- 
missioner, father of an artist friend. He offered 
the City Mall Shopping Center adjacent to the 
City Hall. The decision to use this complex 
proved later to be a most fortuitous one, as the 
city government became supportive in 
publicity-seeking, installation of the maps, and 
production of events in ways which greatly 
expanded the scope and effectiveness of the 
piece. The City Attorney set up a press 
conference with himself, me, a representative 
of the hotline alliance, and the deputy mayor to 
announce the opening of the piece. Although 
this would not ordinarily have been a 
newsworthy event, his particular political 
situation at the time generated a good deal of 
coverage, something both of us used to our 
own advantage. 

The maps were installed in the Mall on Moth- 
er's Day, May 8. During the installation cere- 
monies only one city official, Councilwoman 
Pat Russell, was present to address a sparse and 
transitory audience. As the three weeks pro- 
gressed, however, several officials began to of- 
fer their support, and public awareness grew up 
until the closing rally, which was well attended 
by both press and a general audience. 

Community Based Organizations and the Media 

In Los Angeles many organizations have been 
dealing with issues of violence against women 
for several years. We discovered, in addition to 
the rape hotlines (several of which have formed 
a coalition, The Hotline Alliance), there are 
rape treatment centers in several hospitals, pri- 
vate counseling centers which deal with victim 
recovery, special committees within organiza- 
tions such as N.O.W., Los Angeles City 
County Commission on the Status of Women, 
and A.C.L.U., and programs sponsored by the 
police and sheriff's departments. There are 
grassroots feminist organizations struggling to 
develop battered women's shelters, create 
"neighborhood watch" programs, and educate 
the public on violence in the media: 

Although many of these groups are some- 
what aware of each other's activities, political 
differences and the strenuous demands of their 
own activities prevent collaboration. As I col- 
lected information about these organizations, I 
began to see Three Weeks providing a frame- 
work to publicize already existing activities and 
introducing the organizations to the notion of 
more extensive interaction. The overall media 
strategy took the form of a campaign to bring 

public attention to the maps, the piece as a 
whole, and the various activities of the involved 

Thus, the piece became an open structure for 
the dissemination of information beyond that 
possible for any one agency, individual, or 

I was conscious that the piece functioned as a 
model, constructed to show the kinds of com- 
munities that could potentially be addressed. 
Effectiveness in terms of numbers of people 
reached is an important consideration, al- 
though my primary concern was to create a 
form that could be used in other situations with 
other information. Audiences for the presenta- 
tions by anti-rape organizations were selected 
in terms of their representative value to the 
model rather than their size, and I worked 
equally hard making connections with a group 
publishing a women's religious newsletter as 
with the reporter writing a feature article for 
the Los Angeles Times. A large employee 
organization from ARCO Plaza, a city utilities 
company, a small parent-teacher organization, 
and a business women 's association were some 
of the organizations addressed by participating 

w f n 


■IT ? 



Art Community 

An artist 's imagery does not always adapt itself 
to mass communication; many artists share the 
need to make an intensely personal statement, 
one which might not be understandable even to 
the artist herself. Public art, on the other hand, 
must use forms and information accessible to 
its audience to fulfill its intent of communi- 
cating with a broad range of people. Three 
Weeks was designed to allow for the contribu- 
tions of both equally valuable forms. Pieces 
ranged from public street presentations to pri- 
vate performances to personal ritual. Barbara 
Smith and Cheri Gaulke created "Liebestod" a 
banquet event for women from organizations 
with differing political views. This per- 
formance evening was designed to strengthen 
their community, and included a sharing ex- 
change along with food and performance art. 
Melissa Hoffman and Anne Gauldrin per- 
formed a healing ritual sharing their own rape 
experiences for an intimate audience. Laurel 
Klick did a private ritual documented with 
photos, an exorcism of a recent assault. My 
piece, She Who Would Fly, was performed es- 
pecially for an art and feminist art audience. A 
brochure detailing the list of events was de- 
signed by Meridee Mandio. Leslie addressed 
the largest public audience in her four part 
street performance in the City Mall. 

'- - ~ ■- v;- - •••■•? "'■:■. 

t B a S B iS) £ R £ S E[2a3 2 S is 3 |; 

\ b p s .b kSN & e m b »K sis r-jy , 

Gaulke and Smith. Liebstod. 

A final piece was a guerilla action performed 
by myself, Phranc, Melissa Hoffman, and 
Judith Loischild. Early one morning we went to 
several street corners which had been specified 
by the rape reports. We outlined a woman's 
body on the sidewalk with red chalk and left a 
flower within it. Next to the outline we wrote, 
"A woman was raped near here, " and the date 
of that crime. 

The closing rally was held in the City Mall. 
By this time media had been alerted to the 
maps, and several television camera crews and 
newspaper reporters were on hand for an ad- 
dress by Councilwoman Russell. Leslie's fourth 
performance, Women Fight Back offered ex- 
citing visuals for the reporters, and coverage 
that evening included not only the rally but 
information from the entire project and the 
maps themselves, which by this time had 
recorded over ninety rapes. 

Knowing this was an opportunity to use the 
media to put forth a feminist perspective on 
rape, I delivered a speech about the maps that 
strongly represented that viewpoint. The maps 
were then "given" to the City Commission on 
the Status of Women, who later had a City 
Council resolution passed to install them 

temporarily inside the City Hall. The final 
event was a self defense demonstration by Betty 
Brooks and Cathy Barber. (We were pleased 
the next day when we saw a photo in one of the 
papers, showing women actively kicking 
beneath the shadows of City Hall, with a 
caption reading "members of the Studio Watts 
Workshop and the Woman 's Building demon- 
strate against rape at the Los Angeles Mallby 
performing exercises designed to disarm 

This particular photo was meaningful to us 
because it was a successful "media image. " It 
showed a group of women in an active and 
united stance along with information on rape. 
Actual results of Three Weeks in May are dif- 
ficult to measure, and like this picture they 
largely consisted of setting the context for the 
discussion of rape to be carried on in the city in 
an open and aggressive way. We established 
some contacts in the media and several in city 
government, giving us the credibility to per- 
form our subsequent works with much more 
support. The publicity of the piece contributed 
to an awakening of the art community to the 
possibility of political art and an increased 
respect for feminist art. 

(continued on page 84) 

Record Companies Drag Their Feet 
On Tuesday morning August 30, 1977, at 8301 
Sunset Blvd., site of a billboard of the rock 
group KISS in L.A., a media event was pre- 
sented in the form of a performance and press 
conference. The event was a collaborative ef- 
fort between myself and WOMEN AGAINST 
organization working to stop the use of exploi- 
tative images of physical and sexual violence 
against women in mass media. Exploitative rec- 
ord album covers and the social responsibility 
of the recording industry provided] the theme 
for the connection between media images of 
woman and the rising condition of violence 
against women. 

Graphic images were set up for a particular 
number of shots and staged in such a way as to 
make it easy for the camera crews to shoot. 
Shot sheets and explanatory information about 
the performance were given out to the media to 
avoid misinterpretation. The huge billboard of 
KISS's Love Gun album became part of the set. 
The set was further composed of a counter bill- 
board — statistics on rape from the Federal 
Crime Index with a simulated record executive's 
office in front. 

The "Big Button, " WEA 's (Warner, Electra 
and Atlantic) symbol of power, was sitting 
■proudly on the desk. The record executives 
were portrayed by women dressed as roosters, 
who began the event by driving up and down 
Sunset Blvd. in a gold convertible. Entering the 
"office, " they simultaneously performed 
cliches of roosters— proud, strutting and arro- 
gant — and executives. 

Women made attempts to communicate with 
the roosters. After being ignored, the women 
held up signs: I WISH THE MEDIA 

The roosters accidently spilt one of ten 
buckets of red paint over the money and desk — 
the "blood money" made by the commercial- 
ization of sex and violent images of women. 


During the fall of 1977 in Los Angeles a par- 
ticularly horrible series of rape killings had 
been grouped together as "The Hillside 
St rangier Case. " The media was reporting in 
detail each of the ten victims' personal 
histories, photographic accounts of each death, 
and speculations about the identity and 
personality of the murderers. Quotations from 
frightened neighbors and stories on the 
ineffectual means women were using to protect 
themselves served only to further terrorize 
women. Far from providing useful incentive 
toward self-protective measures, the media's 
dissection of the cases served as a focus for the 
unspoken fears of constant potential assault. 
Women were living in more fear, feeling 
isolated and helpless. It is characteristic of such 
highly sensationalized reporting to avoid a 
political or comprehensive statement, to focus 
instead on individual motivation for random 
acts of violence. 

We formulated the strategy for a memorial 
event which would introduce a feminist 
perspective into media's handling of the case. 
We created a public ritual for women to share 
their rage and grief , to transform the individual 
struggle to comprehend these assaults into a 
collective statement. 

We were aware of the multiple distortions 
possible in the interpretation of the event as it 
was distilled by media communications. In 
particular they would want to make the event 
an individual reaction of grief against the ten 
specific victims of the strangler. We knew the 
media would focus on this particular statement 
in the hopes of finding an explanation for the 
entire performance. A concise and 
dramatically delivered statement was planned 
to capture media attention and present a 
radical feminist perspective on violence. 

The ten women on the steps, the chorus and 
their banner served as a visual backdrop 

against which the remainder of the piece 
unfolded. We provided a framework for the 
participation of women's organizations and 
governmental representatives to share in the 
collective statement of the event. By 
incorporating elected representatives we would 
increase our power base and allow them to 
participate in radical feminist thinking and 
politics. During the construction of the event 
we had contacted the Rape Hotline Alliance, 
and with them formulated demands for 
mandatory self-defense in grade schools, 
telephone emergency listing of rape hotline 
numbers, and increased funding for neighbor- 
hood protection programs. The second part of 
the piece was designed to manifest these 
demands and to build a collaborative 
relationship between participating groups. 


1 . Feminist art is art created out of the unique con- 
sciousness of being female, a consciousness which 
implies an awareness not only of the singular treat- 
ment afforded to one because of gender, but also 
an awareness of one's relatedness to all other mem- 
bers of that group. Implicit in the work is the 
artist's knowledge of the history of women as a 
class and their struggles to emerge from oppression. 
Feminist art links itself to this ongoing struggle and 
is invested with the belief in women's ability to 
create cultural equality. 

Strong feminist art might or might not appear to 
be political according to conventional definitions. 
By virtue of its expression of an oppressed and 
hidden cultural experience, it will always in fact be 
political. In the most directed of such art its pur- 
pose (and contrary to the myth of functionless art 
as high art, it does have a purpose), as stated by art 
historian Arlene Raven, is "to provide information 
about women's experience, invite an exchange with 
its audience on the issues raised, and to ultimately 
transform culture." As information expressed in 
feminist art is not common to the culture, forms 
evolved by women artists that are particular to their 
perceptions will look foreign to the art community. 
This art cannot rest on prior assumptions or 
conventions about the nature of art; it must create 
its own basis for audience understanding. 

2. The Woman's Building has served as an important 
focal point for the education of women in perform- 
ance and for the display of work by most of the 
prominent women performance artists in Cali- 
fornia. Visiting artists such as Eleanor Antin have 
used this supportive audience to initiate new work 
with feminist implications, contributing through 
participation in conferences and exhibitions to the 
exchange of information and friendships which 
have forged a recognizable West Coast women's 
performance aesthetic. 

3. The Feminist Art Workers (Cheri Gauike, Laurel 
Klick, Nancy Angelo and Candace Compton) and 
The Waitresses (Jerri Allyn, Leslie Belt, Anne 
Gaulden, Patti Nicklaus, Jamie Wildness and 
Denise Yarfitz) are two of many groups of women 
artists doing outstanding feminist political per- 

The event received local and national tele- 
vision coverage and some international press. 
The Los Angeles media itself was very affected 
by the event. Part of our strategy was to 
motivate the reporters to participate in the 
concern about violence and to question their 
manner of reporting crimes. One news reporter 
took her cameras to the phone company the 
day of the performance, and under this 
pressure the representative stated that the 
emergency listing of the rape hotline numbers 
was assured of receiving company approval. 
The event also instigated a series of television 
appearances dealing with a critique of the 
media handling in this case. 

The success of the piece in generating such 
response had to do not only with the power of 
the issue and our organizational activities, but 
with the impact of the images themselves which 
were chosen to show powerful women. Women 
began to move to make that power a reality. 

Councilwoman Joy Picas pledged that 
morning to initiate free self-defense clinics for 
city employees. Between January 17 and 19 
1200 employees attended four one-hour ses- 
sions. The Rape Hotline Alliance sponsored a 
very well attended free self-defense workshop 
the Saturday after the performance. Finally, at 
the instigation of the County Commission on 
the Status of Women, $100,000 held by the 
county as ransom for the capture of the stran- 
gler was used to sponsor free self-defense 
workshops throughout the city and county. 
This piece alone did not accomplish all of the 
activity which poured out as a result of the 
Hillside St rangier incident, but contributed to 
the context of strengthened women 's response 
to their victimization. 

formances. Contributing to the educational process 
have been women like Martha Rosier, Paulene 
Oliveros, Linda Montano, Lynn Hershman and 
Bonnie Sherk. 

4. My thinking about the "democratization of art" 
was most directly influenced by Allan Kaprow, 
whose ideas about the role of artists and the art 
inherent in "non-art" activities moved me in the 
direction of thinking in terms of "performance 
structures." Many other feminist artists, e.g., Mary 
Beth Edelson, did early work involving the audi- 
ence as artist-participants. 

5. I am indebted to Sheila de Bretteville and her 
exploration of the translation of feminist partici- 
patory democracy into visual form for many of the 
structural ideas underlying this piece. Her work 
expressed, among other things, the creation of grid 
structures for the simultaneous and equal expres- 
sion of many voices and she spoke eloquently over 
the years of our association to the necessity for 
creating communication forms that expressed the 
grass roots level of our feminist ideology. 

6. "In Russia they felt a great experiment was being 
made in which, for the first time since the Middle 
Ages, the artist and his art were embodied in the 
make-up of the common life, art was given a 
working job, and the artist considered a responsible 
member of society"— Camilla Gray, The Russian 
Experiment in Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 
London, 1962), p. 276. 

7. Descriptions of Three Weeks in May and In Mourn- 
ing and in Rage . . . were first printed in Frontiers: 
A Journal of Women Studies, Boulder, Colorado, 
as well as the information from footnote 1. During 
the description of Three Weeks I move back and 
forth from the use of the personal "I" to the collec- 
tive "we" to describe the process of putting the 
piece together. This reflects the very real and sup- 
portive participation in planning from several peo- 
ple, most significantly Barabara Cohen, Melissa 
Hoffman, Jill Soderholm and Leslie Labowitz. A 
work of this scale could never be done by a single 
person, and the feminist art community in Los An- 
geles has a well-established pattern of collaboration. 
This piece was sponsored by Studio Watts Work- 

working-class reality nearly vanish from 
middle-class cultural imagery? I maintain 
that the discrepancy was a symptom of 
contemporary bourgeois ideology con- 
cerning working-class women. That is, it 
was an attempt to "justify and hide a 
social-historical practice whose true sig- 
nificance lies elsewhere." 22 The women's 
reality was effectively erased in the service 
of creating a myth, a myth, however, 
which had its kernel of truth, that bit of 
truth which is so crucial a dynamic in 
maintaining the prevailing ideologies. We 
know, for example, that laundresses 
picked up and delivered laundry in what 
could be viewed as the provocative inti- 
macy of people's homes. In addition they 
worked in devastating heat which forced 
them to violate Victorian standards of 
dress and "lady-like" conduct. Compared 
to French bourgeois women the laundres- 
ses' sexual habits may well have been free. 
We know that the French bourgeois wom- 
an was very repressed sexually. 23 One 
purpose that repression served was to 
maintain the institution of marriage; 
middle-class men went to prostitutes, and 
middle-class women embroidered and 
read novels. Working-class women on the 
other hand were not dependent on men for 
marriage and financial support; they 
earned their own money after all. Their 
sexual habits were not limited by the social 
demands of marriage. Zola therefore was 
not mistaken when he said in L'Assom- 
moir that laundresses are not a prudish 

lot. 24 

How can we explain, however, the exag- 
gerated and nearly exclusive emphasis 
middle-class culture placed on the laun- 
dresses' sexuality. Why, for example, does 
one so rarely fnd images like Daumier's 
Washerwoman? Why is there not more of 
an emphasis on the sheer drudgery of the 
laundresses' work? My real question is 
what purpose does this distortion serve 
ideologically? It does two things. It neu- 
tralizes middle-class fear and guilt toward 
workers, and it rationalizes middle-class 
exploitation of workers. 

In fact middle-class fear of the masses 
had greatly increased in 19th-century 
France. By the end of the century, 
working-class people were no longer 
merely victims; the mass uprisings in Paris 
during the Revolution of 1848 and the 
Commune of 1871 made that clear. 

The Paris Commune [writes E. J. 
Hobsbawm] was . . . important not so 
much for what it achieved as for what it 
forecast ... -If it did not threaten the 
bourgeois order seriously, it frightened 
the wits out of it by its mere existence. 25 

One shape bourgeois defensiveness took 
was disdain. Mentally, the bourgeoisie 
trivialized the poor; one way to do that 
was to sexualize them. In the case of the 
laundress in 19th-century middle-class cul- 
ture, the illusion that she was sensual, co- 
quettish and without morals meant she did 
not have to be taken seriously; guilt about 
the quality of her work-life or fear of her 
potential anger was side-stepped. She 
posed no dangers. She could not possibly 
be a Eugenie Suetens, the accused laun- 
dress-incendiary of the Commune. 2 « She 
was merely a brute, if sometimes coquet- 
tish, sexual animal. 

As long as laundresses were seen as 
immoral they clearly deserved to earn less 
and live in squalor; they weren't worth 
more. This distortion of their reality legit- 
imized their exploitation. It was therefore 
crucial to perpetuate this lie. There was 
nothing casual, then, about the middle- 
class cultural image of laundresses in 19th- 
century France. It served very specific 
ideological ends. 

— Eunice Lipton 


1. R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (New 
York: 1967), p. 58. 

2. Alan Wallach, verbal presentation to Artists 
Meeting for Cultural Change, Oct., 1977. 

3. Cornelius Castoriadis, cited in New York Review 
of Books (June 29, 1978), p. 36. 

4. Marcel Frois, Les Blanchisseries— hygiene et pra- 
tique du blanchissage, (Paris, 1910), pp. 113, 116. 

5. This information was found respectively in Rene 
Gonnard, La Femme dans I'industrie (Paris, 
1906), p. 102; Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, Le Travail des 
femmes au XIXe siecle (Paris, 1888), pp. 11, 118; 
Theodore Zeldin, France 1848-1945, Vol. I: 
Ambition, Love, Politics (Oxford, 1973), pp. 33, 

6. Gonnard, p. 126. 

7. Ibid. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Pierre Cabanne, Edgar Degas (New York/Pans, 
1958), p. 51. 

10. Frois, pp. 97, 98. 

11. Emile Zola, L'Assommoir (London, 1970), p. 146; 
originally (Paris, 1876). 

12. Frois, p. 49. 

13. Leroy-Beaulieu, p. 114. 

14. Frois, p. 100. In general see Chapter 6, "alcoolis- 
me et tuberculose," pp. 100-104. 

15. Octave Uzanne, La Femme a Paris (New 
York/London, 1912), p. 71; originally (Paris, 

16. We must appreciate, however, how biased even, 
these must be, written as they are by middle-class 
men scrutinizing the problems of an industry 
which in every way but practically, was alien and 
perhaps even repulsive to them. 

17. Zola, p. 159. 

18. Uzanne, pp. 71-72. 

19. Georges Montorgueil, Le Cafe-concert (Paris, 
1893), p. 6. 

20. Alexandre Z6vaes, Zola (Paris, 1945), p. 63. 

21. Ibid., pp. 63-64. 

22. Castoriadis, p. 36. The Church told bourgeois 
women that "the purpose of marriage was defi- 
nitely not pleasure, but the constitution of families 
and the procreation of children . . . after procrea- 
tion, continence by mutual consent in marriage 
was recommended as desirable." 

23. Zeldin, p. 297. 

24. Zola, p. 245. 

25. E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital, 1848-1875, 
(New York, 1975), p. 167. 

26. Edith Thomas, The Women Incendiaries (New 
York, 1966), pp. J76-177; originally (Paris, 1963). 

Working with WAVAW 

Women Against Violence Against Women 
grew out of our realization that the way to 
eliminate the promotion of violence 
against women via the media was not 
through censorship, but through public 
education and consciousness-raising. Our 
work with Leslie has been part of an over- 
all strategy to change social attitudes, to 
mobilize people and to pressure com- 
panies to adopt policies reflecting corpor- 
ate responsibility. In August 1977, we 
needed powerful press-coverage-type ex- 
posure of the record industry's position re- 
garding advertising exploiting violence 
against women and we needed generally to 
increase public awareness and understand- 
ing of the issue. 

Leslie and I evolved a similar under- 
standing of the political implications of 
images in mass media and the need to 
create a media strategy that incorporates 
the strengths and tools of the political and 
the artistic. Imagery is political because it 
contains and creates our society's assump- 
tions about the world, e.g., sex-role 
stereotypes, who rules the world. Mass 
media (TV, radio, magazines, billboards) 
disseminate these images to masses of 
people, providing most of the information 
they get today, beginning at a very young 

Recognizing the power of mass media to 
affect public opinion and cultural stereo- 
types that in turn affect public policy and 
our everyday lives, Leslie and WAVAW 
tapped this power. Leslie is more adept 
and experienced than us at manipulating 
forms and physical components to convey 
messages. WAVAW has an organization, 
an established action program, and has de- 
veloped a public awareness and concern, 
that is, a constituency. WAVAW's cam- 
paign provided the news. The artists con- 
tributed skills to develop a powerful image 
and an event that would move people both 
emotionally and politically. 

Together, in Record Companies Drag 
Their Feet, we created images of strong, 
dignified women of various ages fighting 
back. In the face of overwhelming rape 
statistics, they, as a group, confronted the 
record industry's exploitation of violence 
against women. They talked to the leaders, 
protested and rallied support for a boy- 
cott. The performance and the press 
conference which followed each enhanced 
the effect of the other. This was a logical 
and potent counterforce to the images, 
definitions and political analyses of wom- 
en's concerns usually provided for the 

consumer and audience by advertising, 
news, entertainment and other popular 
information sources. 

Leslie, the artists and WAVAW tried to 
set up a collective working relationship 
based on mutual problem-solving. We 
integrated the CR (consciousness-raising) 
process and feminist consciousness into 
both the piece itself and the process for 
developing and producing the event. 
WAVAW's close participation was re- 
quired in production so that the piece 
accurately portrayed our positions and 
image, information about the industry 
(executives' image, symbols of power and 
prestige, albums, etc.), and the images of 
women that we wanted. The artists learned 
about the structure and goals of the indus- 
try, strategies for change and how all this 
affects them as artists and as women. In 
other words, they were politicized. 

The piece was effective. It provided a 
form that made our position accessible to 
a news program format. The format itself 
reinforced the feeling (and reality) of 
immediacy and authenticity that we need 
to bolster. Our preparations for the press 
plus the tone of the event increased our 
credibility with reporters and their respect 
for us. A videotape documentation (suit- 
able for broadcast) will further the out- 
reach of the initial performance. It was a 
highly successful synthesis of P.R., organ- 
izing and art, a new form for politicizing 
people and gaining popular support. 

However, while industry publications 
carried good coverage of the event, none 
of the companies we were boycotting re- 
sponded. Without a more sophisticated, 
long-term strategy around the event its 
effect was limited. 

The potential for building a community 
around the project was great. A shortage 
of time for preparing the event (one and a 
half months), however, resulted in 
WAVAW people doing basic overall strat- 
egy, site selection and concept with Leslie, 
press conference, fund-raising, and some 
production work. Leslie did production 
work and other political, community 
outreach. Most of the participants were 
artists from the L.A. women's commun- 
ity. Only one person from WAVAW had 
ongoing contact with the artists. Nonethe- 
less, the "political" people exposed to the 
event now have a high appreciation for 
what can be done. 

Access to and control of mass media is 
generally limited to those with the econo- 
nomic resources to support its technology. 

Therefore, a relatively tiny group of inter- 
ests has extraordinary political power. 
Now, more than ever before, feminist 
organizing means organizing the power of 
the media to convey feminist images. The 
collaboration developed a model for femi- 
nists to control and obtain cheap access to 
the media. 

— Julia London 
— Joan Howarth 

Development of a feminist media strategy 
A media strategy to gain control of and 
accessibility to mass media is particularly 
vital to women. The feminist perspective is 
unrepresented in the media of popular cul- 
ture. At this time, when violence against 
women is used by the media in exploitative 
and sensationalized ways that degrade and 
dehumanize women, it is essential that we 
find a way to present alternative images by 
ourselves in the media. This can be done in 
various ways: by creating alternative 
media outside the system or by demanding 
that existing media present different per- 
spectives. Another approach is to make 
the public aware of the power of images, 
media manipulation through images and 
the attitudes perpetuated about women. 
This necessitates the development of a 
concrete media politics with a full under- 
standing of the role of economics in the 
structure of media. As women we cannot 
develop a feminist political perspective in 
this contemporary society without inclu- 
ding a media analysis. I seeWAVAWfunc- 
tioning with this perspective. In a certain 
sense WAVAW operates on the level of 
"art critic" in popular culture. Its slide 
show is composed of offensive record cov- 
ers and advertising that exploit violent 
images of women. The covers are analyzed 
during slide presentations in terms of con- 
tent based on design, composition, color 





and form. Techniques of manipulation in 
advertising are taught to a general public. 
WAVAW's audience extends over all class, 
race and age barriers. WAVAW educates 
the viewers to develop critical skills toward 
media and images. After taking them 
through the slide show WAVAW allows the 
audience a collective expression of anger 
or disgust or pain. The issue of "corporate 
responsibility" and economic pressure of 
a boycott are discussed as action, as is let- 
ter writing. The group is offered ways they 
can collectively or individually affect 

I found the collaboration with WAVAW 
a natural and important one for myself as 
both artist and activist. It seems to me that 
the area of media is where artists can best 
work politically as their skills in image- 
making can work to criticize the media 
criticism as well as to create new images. 
Since L.A. is the media capital of the 
world and ideas, images and current 
events pass through this center to reach 
out internationally, it seemed logical to ex- 
pand my own definition of art in that 

After the media exposure brought about 
in Three Weeks in May it was evident that 
TV was a most effective stage for my per- 
formances. To be able to use mass media 
for putting out images and information 
from a feminist perspective I saw that they 
would have to become "media events." A 
media event from my analysis is an activity 
that enables itself to be taken in by media- 
makers and their technology and then be 
filtered through them. Media events are 
created by the media itself. There is usual- 
ly no control of what, how or when the 
media will use information. As feminists, 
to learn to control the material that is 
given out about women would put us in a 
very powerful position. 

WAVAW and I decided on a media event 
that would be specifically designed for TV 
newscasts. WAVAW needed public atten- 
tion to be restimulated on their issues 
(boycott of Warner, Elektra, Atlantic 
Record Company). This entailed a thor- 
ough media analysis as to what kinds of 
events might attract reporters, when the 
best time would be, what image we were 
trying to project, who would participate. 
Determining the look of the event was a 
long and intensive process involving 
WAVAW and myself. It took researching 
the way actual executive offices looked, 
how executives themselves dressed, and 

(continued on page 88) 

Wfc won't settle for less" 

In this issue, there are few visuals made by 
artists: art that sets out to explore and 
demonstrate violence often presents an 
ambiguous message. Much of the art sent 
to us would have remained ambiguous 
even within the context of this issue. 

In America today, artworld art has a 
greater economic than social function. 
The question of a work's monetary possi- 
bilities supersede'any political, emotional, 
spiritual, or intellectual intentionality. 
Where a work appears, how much it costs, 
who made it, who wrote/said what about 
it are all part of that work's context. The 
meaning of a work, depending on its con- 
text, can be the opposite of the artist's 

Any strictly formalist analysis places a 
work in a tradition of modernism where 
art refers only to itself, progressing within 
an autonomous history by virtue of the 
risk-taking breakthroughs of the avant- 
garde. Art that is not grounded in princi- 
pled social theory can as easily lend itself 
to a metaphysical, religious, purist inter- 
pretation as to a materialist one. Artists' 
statements on their work, and much art 
criticism, looking only at the relation be- 
tween artists and their materials, do not 
provide us with an avenue of inquiry into 
the complex relations between culture and 

All forms of representation— artworld 
art, advertising art, TV, movies— provide 
a standard by which to evaluate experi- 
ence. At the same time they either confirm 
or negate our daily experiences. The as- 
sumed neutrality of representational 
forms allows the ideological function of 
all art to pass unnoticed and unques- 

The social position of women in any 
given culture and the depiction of women 
within that culture are dialectically related 

—that is to say, that the representation of 
women is influenced by their social posi- 
tion but also that the effect of these repre- 
sentations is to maintain women's status. 
Media and commercial art (because of 
the magnitude and ubiquity of their 
images) have today largely supplanted tra- 
ditional art's role of transmitting ideol- 
ogy. It is Vogue/Hustler's images more 
than, say, Picasso's images that tell us 
who we are or should be. Advertising art 
sells a way of life in which commodities 
are increasingly humanized while people 
are increasingly commodified. 

Advertising presents women as com- 
modities. This both reflects the real condi- 
tion of women's subordination to men 
and also serves to strengthen it by making 
women's submission appear glamorous. 
We see images of elegantly dressed high 
fashion models, happy, middle-class 
families contrasting with our daily lives. 
These images are meant to inspire envy. 
Advertising art capitalizes on the misogyny 
which it helps to reinforce. The most 
recent example is the vogue for S/M ads 
in which violence against women is mark- 
eted as "upfront" and "liberating." 
Commercial art functions to adjust us to 
our own repression by making repression 
seem natural, even pleasurable. 

The visuals in this issue incorporate im- 
ages from daily life: snapshots, newspap- 
ers, posters, graffitti, ads, packaging, TV. 
Their ordinariness, their seeming natural- 
ness is one key to any understanding of 
ideology and social control. Images, de- 
cisions about typeface, paper, layout, de- 
sign, the dialectic set up between images 
and written text are all integral to the ar- 
gument we are presenting. 

Rather than challenge the concept of 
fine art by attempting to "democratize" it 
through the inclusion of craftspeople, 
Third World, working class, women art- 
ists, we have tried to make evident the 
fundamental connections of all visual rep- 
resentations with ideology and social 


how we could portray women in images 
that were strong and active without being 
unrealistic. After working on this with 
WAV AW for about two weeks, I then took 
the information and designed a piece 
around it. The event took six weeks to pro- 
duce. The final aesthetic decisions in an 
event such as this are of utmost impor- 
tance and demand a sophisticated know- 
ledge of images in popular culture as well 
as art images to be successful. Every part 
of this event was controlled, even the press 
conference. Because the audience was so 
broad we wanted as many women from di- 
versified groups as possible to take part in 
the collective statement at the end. After 
about a month of contacting different 
communities I found that most ethnic 
groups did not want to connect politically 
or publicly with the concerns of white 
middle-class women. What I recognized 
was the aversion and fear being shown in 
the media and the real need for the organ- 
izing of women from different racial or 
ethnic backgrounds to come out of the 
community itself. The community I want- 
ed to represent was the Mexican-American 
one because of the high rate of wife bat- 
tering. Once Chicana woman did partici- 
pate and carried a sign written in Spanish 
but the piece did not focus on that issue. 

The event turned out to be both a per- 
formance and press conference. It was es- 
timated the media would stay about 15 
minutes, they stayed a half-hour. Eight 
different images were set up to correspond 
to eight shot possibilities for the camera 
crews. Most images were repeated at least 
four times so that the media could come 
and go and still not miss an image. We had 
our own media representative at the site to 
hand out a press kit and shot sheet to 

Record Companies Drag Their Feet was 
covered by all local stations, pretty much 
in the format I designed. The media re- 
porters responded extremely positively to 
the visualizations and made an effort to 
understand the meaning of the images so 
that they could present it accurately. One 
newscaster, Felicia Jeter of CBS, became a 
kind of participant in the event. She nar- 
rated it as it took place, using the images 
to make her points during the newscast. 

The effects of this kind of political acti- 
vity are often long-term or hard to meas- 
ure. The concrete effects were ones that 
helped set the supportive and positive rela- 
tionship we now have to L.A. media, the 
women's community and the art com- 

munity. A long-term effect was to place 
different images of women in the public 
consciousness. On a personal level, for me 
as an artist, I feel an important gap is be- 
ginning to be bridged between women ar- 
tists and their political community. I know 
WAVAW has opened itself up to the possi- 
bility and recognized the importance of fu- 
ture collaborations with artists. 

Forming a Collaboration 
Future 'Directions 

After the strangler piece we retreated, 
nursing the personal effect that working 
with such devastatingly violent material 
had on us. As we supported each other 
through this period, we began to think of 
continuing our collaborative relationship. 
We felt that the expanded arena into 
which our political and aesthetic perspec- 
tive was taking us necessitated a strong 
support system, psychologically and phys- 
ically. The work alone was more than any 
one individual could handle. 

While we did expand our energy, con- 
cepts and image resources we certainly 
were not without painful conflict. Many 
times one of us has felt herself losing pow- 
er to the other, feeling overwhelmed, pro- 
jecting authority resentments. We have 
been troubled by the difficulty of receiving 
equal recognition in a system that prefers 
to see single authorship. These are the 
same problems that come up when work- 
ing with larger groups and communities. 
We are working out our personal and aes- 
thetic conflicts through dialogue, as 
preparation for expanded work in which 
artists, feminists, people in political office 
and journalists collaborate on works to 
end violence against women. 

This year we are initiating Ariadne: A 
Social Art Network, a three-year project 
created out of the models of our past 
work. Our goals are to sponsor the crea- 
tion of art work directed toward ending all 
violence against women and to provide the 
context in the art community for a viable 
and effective, political art. To achieve these 
goals a communication/information ex- 
change and an action/production network 

with artists, politicians, feminists and 
journalists are being formed which can 
function as a pressure group for the repre- 
sentation of a feminist perspective in the 
media. In this embryonic stage of our 
planning, we have isolated three com- 
ponents to address various needs of such a 

The Education component is housed it, 
the Feminist Studio Workshop at the 
Woman's Building in Los Angeles. Ariad- 
ne will offer classes, lectures and training 
programs for women to learn the skills of 
production and the historical and political 
analyses underlying the development of 
feminist political performance art. The 
Vision and Theory component will be an 
open forum for women to discuss issues of 
violence in a setting disconnected from im- 
mediate action. It will serve as the first 
connection for women from various com- 
munities who would like to begin the 
discussion of violence and its relationship 
to personal lives, social groups and the en- 
tire class of women. We will be seeking out 
a variety of participants from women of 
all classes and races in an effort to forge a 
coherent political perspective which will 
inform our art. Vision and Theory will 
encourage critical writing on the subjects 
of violence toward women and the art 
forms being evolved out of our socio- 
political consiousness. The Project com- 
ponent will serve as a consultant to 
community groups wishing to plan their 
own art actions, will support those women 
already working on violence through art 
and will carry out projects designed specif- 
ically to fulfill Ariadne's goals. One of the 
first projects will be a handbook on how to 
produce multilevel informational art 
events at a grass roots level. A documen- 
tary on our latest performance event in 
Las Vegas, From Reverence to Rape to 
Respect, is now being prepared by a PBS 
station there. As well, Ariadne has three 
documentary videotapes in production 
which will be completed this year. 

As we have begun the process of orga- 
nizing Ariadne, we have found a tre- 
mendous and eager response, one which 
reveals the need women have to act on the 
issue of violence. We know there will be 
times when direct political intervention, be 
it lobbying or marching in the streets, will 
be more effective than even political art 
events. We recognize and support the exis- 
tence of political action on every level; the 
action we have personally chosen is 
through art — performance, graphics, vid- 
eo and mass media — as we work toward 
the creation of effective models for the 
radical intervention of artists in society. 


(Like a magician, a teacher, holding up a carrot for all to see) 

(looking at carrot and then holding it up once more) 

(look down, pause, consider, brighten up, look up) 


(grab several carrots, a bunch in each hand and begin eating them two at a time 
while talking) 


(continue eating and talking, three carrots at a time) 

(chew chew chew swallow chew) 

(expounding, waving carrots around, yelling and stuffing carrots four at a 



(bits of carrot and saliva flying out while shouting) 


(pause, collect oneself, lower voice) 

(look solemnly out at the women, and spit the whole mess out onto the floor) 

—Marty Pottenger 


Why is violence prevalent in our society 
and why is so much violence aimed at 
women, especially at poor, third world 
women? In attempting to answer this 
question, we need first to look at the re- 
lation between violence and society. 

Violence is a word of "longstanding 
complexity." 1 But within all the forms of 
violence (physical, emotional) there are 
esentially two broad categories: sanc- 
tioned violence and unsanctioned vio- 
lence. We tend to notice only the latter. 
Sanctioned violence is supposedly used to 
restore social order and peace — or the ab- 
sence of violence (e.g. war "to make the 
world safe for democracy"). I will define 
violence here as the forcible interference 
of personal freedom whether sanctioned 
or unsanctioned, which ultimately rests on 
the threat or use of physical force. 

As accounts of violence are presented to 
us in the daily media, violence would seem 
to be the result of uncontrolled natural ag- 
gression. It is chiefly produced by those 
"less civilized" peoples and parts of the 
world. Some eminent male anthropolo- 
gists have written that the human species 
is instinctively aggressive and that man is 
by nature a killer, a hunter; while woman 
is by nature unaggressive (and if not a 
hunter then a victim?). History textbooks 
tell us that man transforms the natural 
state of barbarism into civilization by ex- 
tablishing customs, codes, laws. Civiliza- 
tion, we learn, takes violence out of the 
realm of interpersonal relations (where it 
is supposedly rampant) and attaches it to 
the state in the form of an apparatus of re- 
pression to be used against the enemies of 
civilization. Institutionalized or legiti- 
mized violence exists for the maintenance 
of social order. The higher or more ad- 
vanced the civilization the greater the ma- 
chinery of violence at the state's disposal. 


Today, the degree of development of a 
particular nation is judged by the sophisti- 
cation of its armaments. 

A real examination of history shows 
just the opposite. Civilization itself creates 
the conditions for violence. Indeed, the 
artifacts representing the highest attain- 
ments of past civilizations are also records 
of the violence and repression required to 
create them. 

Whoever has emerged victorious partici- 
pates to this day in the triumphal proces- 
sion in which the present rulers step over 
those who are lying prostrate. According 
to traditional practice, the spoils are car- 
ried along in the procession. They are 
called cultural treasures, and a historical 
materialist views them with cautious de- 
tachment. For without exception the cul- 
tural treasures he [she] surveys have an 
origin which he [she] cannot contemplate 
without horror. They owe their existence 
not only to the efforts of the great minds 
and talents who have created them, but 
also to the anonymous toil of their con- 
temporaries. There is no document of civ- 
ilization which is not at the same time a 
document of barbarism. 2 

In the age of Pericles, Athens' golden age 
of democracy, slaves built the glorious 
'temples and imperialism financed the con- 
struction. It was the Greeks who coined 
the phrase, "might makes right" to justi- 
fy imperialism. Settlers of the United 
States practiced slavery as well as geno- 
cide; the Civil War ended slavery, in order 
to extend wage slavery. 

The development of every civilization 
up to our times has given rise to the de- 
velopment of oppressed classes. 

The process of creating an oppressed 
group as well as maintaining its subjuga- 
tion requires constant violence. Old tradi- 
tions, customs, social relations must be 
shattered for new laws and enforcers to 
hold sway. Nowhere is this more transpar- 
ent than in the process of colonization, 
which is really the enslavement of one 
people by another. 

Violence in the colonies does not only 
have for its aim the keeping of these en- 
slaved men [and women] at arm's length; 
its seeks to dehumanize them. Everything 
will be done to wipe out their traditions, 


yyy*jE^i&:'' lift 





to substitute our language for theirs and 
to destroy their culture without giving 
them ours. Sheer physical fatigue will 
stupefy them. Starved and ill, if they have 
any spirit left, fear will finish the job. 1 

The oppressed class is disciplined to ac- 
cept its poverty, its forced labor for the 
enrichment of others, its social inferiority. 
At first the level of violence used to sup- 
press a group, as in the beginning of colo- 
nization, is striking. It is recognized as 
warfare, conquest. But gradually, the vio- 
lence used to keep the disadvantaged in 
line becomes routinized and ritualized. It 
becomes so part of the environment, of 
the school, factory, prison, and family 
that it is barely perceived consciously. 
Ideology distorts the perception of vio- 
lence. The source of violence now appears 
to be not the system but those who rebel 
against it; the sanctioned violence used to 
repress rebellion though generally of far 
greater magnitude is overlooked. Finally 
even the expression of needs by the op- 
pressed is viewed as proof of their violent 
nature and a constant source of danger to 
society. Consider the advice given in a 
manual for training automotive managers: 

Each worker has certain basic needs 
which can be likened in some respects to 
the basic instincts of wild animals, in that 
they require no teaching or learning and 
lie dormant in the subconscious until out- 
side events bring them suddenly into the 
conscious mind, when they may cause the 
person to act in a certain way.* 







Avoidance Irrational behaviour 

Fig. 6.2 Symptoms of frustration 

It has been commonplace in literature and 
art to portray the lower classes as ani- 
mals. 5 Women who fall from their pedes- 
tals become either the most degraded of 
animals or monsters. These depictions are 
two sides of the same coin. As an animal, 

woman is absolutely helpless in her mis- 
ery. But as a monster, her rage makes her 
capable of unknown feats of destruction. 
Such is the fear accorded woman; either 
she must be rendered helpless or she may 
destroy society. 

The process of creating an oppressed 
class is completed and secured when the 
violence of the social system is interna- 
lized by its victims. The violent social 
relations get played out in every relation- 
ship. The family becomes the daily arena 
of violence and it socializes the next gen- 
eration into re-enacting the violent modes 
of behavior. Accepting finally a social 
hierarchy of superiors and inferiors, soci- 
ety's victims turn their rage against them- 
selves. Sexist, racist, and ethnic battles 
multiply new victims while those who 
benefit from the system go untouched. On 
another level, physical and psychological 
illnesses increase. The majority of patients 
in mental institutions are women. 

At the extreme, a criminal class devel- 
ops among the oppressed— criminal be- 
cause it cannot possibly acquire the 
material rewards of society by acceptable 
means and criminal because it has been 
dehumanized. Such a class has had its 
human rights and sense of self worth sys- 
tematically stripped away, and it has come 
to believe that there are no human rights. 
Its also perceives, correctly, that its rulers 
are no less corrupt. 

Interpersonal violence within the op- 
pressed class works to the advantage of 
the social system in two ways. It can justi- 
fy the use of repression by pointing to the 
inhumanity of the oppressed. More im- 
portant, the oppressed become divided 
among themselves and therefore incapa- 
ble of fighting against the real source of 
oppression, the system itself. 

The struggle for freedom means work- 
ing out a totally new way of being in the 
world. This involves recreating human 
and communal values (values which may 
never have existed except temporarily in 
revolutionary situations). This does not 
mean reconstructing an ideal past since 
the past was never ideal. Today's oppres- 
sion was built upon past oppression. 
Upon the initial foundation of patriarchy 
was laid racism and class prejudice. Like 
the rings of an ancient tree, our civiliza- 
tion is made up of layers and layers of 
oppression. Women are the targets of so 
much violence because they have been his- 
torically, within every oppressed group, 
the most oppressed. 

The struggle also means recognizing 
that all forms of oppression are intercon- 

nected. The goal then is not solely to win 
particular demands but to change the 
entire social system. Feminism must lead 
to socialism or it leads to the dead end of 
reformism. As long as workers, third 
world and minority people are oppressed, 
women will be oppressed. Conversely, if 
these groups fight for narrowly conceived 
interests and not for the liberation of 
women as well, their struggle is in vain. 
— Janet Koenig 


1 . Raymond Williams, Keywords, Oxford University 
Press, New York, 1976, p. 278-9. 

2. Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of 
History," Illuminations, Fontana, London, 1973, 
p. 258. 

3. Jean-Paul Sartre, Preface to Franz Fanon's 
Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press, Inc., New 
York, 1968, p. 15. 

4. Alan Shier, Motor Trade Management, Oxford 
University Press, London, 1977, p. 78. 

5. See Bruce Franklin, Victim as Criminal and Artist, 
Oxford University Press, New York, 1978. 



Part One: "The Women of 
Star Metal Corporation" 

In the morning 

Midnight yesterday ended 160 consecutive 
days of saturation bombing (done) by the 
North American air force over the whole 
country. The airplanes have bombarded 
Cambodia during the last 4!/2 years . . . 
first in secret and then during the last 
years letting fall more than 240,000 tons 
of bombs. That is 50% more explosives 
than were dropped on Japan during 
World War II. (Amuse oneself/exrend 
oneself guiltily in the new literature . . . 
for this reason these poems are so sad.) 
Phnom Penh was shattered by the fierce 
and unexpected bombardment in the last 
hour while those in control were ordering 
attack upon attack against a rebel force of 
10,000 men who surrounded the city. The 
(long or great) death running about the 
countryside. The big B-52, F-ll, and tac- 
tic equipment took part in the attack. 

Men like Rusk are not new. They are 
bombs waiting to be loaded in a darkened 
hangar. While the sun did not rise, Bengal 
lights illuminated the sk_y looking for 
rebel concentrations. As the day arrives, 
the air activity intensifies in the outskirts 
of the capital. 

You must know that there will be a day 
when all of us will be free. The people 
went to their jobs as they were accus- 
tomed, oblivious of the fact that the 
American bombings would cease at 

"Dejame ayudarte, Mama! jQui'ube 
chica! How are my babies this morning?" 
(Let me help you Mama. How are things 

The multicolored dresses, the laughter 
that I can hear still, the swollen feet, the 
gossip, the curses. The bell is going to ring 
now, and a single hoarse breathing will vi- 
brate in the basement for 4 hours. On the 
right-hand corner now the machine begins 
to sound. The supervisors light their ciga- 
rettes. The one from Guayaquil comes in 
running with her little green plastic purse, 
right at the turn of the hour as always. 
Teresa finishes singing a sweet Puerto 
Rican song with her eyes half-closed. 
Anitha, who at times like these would al- 
ways smile, seated on the boxes, arching a 
little her beautiful African head. Anitha 
looks at me no more . . . doesn't wink an 
eye as if to say to me, " 'til the break at 12 
sister" . . . because yesterday they threw 
her out of the factory and once again she 
is out of work. Only after 2 months can 
you belong to the Worker's Union, in the 
meantime you can be fired at any moment 
for whatever reason or without one. Dino- 
la passes through the hallway speaking to 
herself in her heavy Louisiana accent; she 
looks at me and gives me an orange shin- 
ing like the sun. We are beautiful. 200 
strong women making the day to earn the 
day. Puerto Rican women, Black women, 
Illegal Latin American women: ripe fruit, 
flesh of the Third World (those that are 
being eaten by Amerika). And now we be- 
gin. And the light is always dark here 
inside. And in 5 minutes the legs begin 
to kick alone, the arms in the air , 
the splinters get under the fingernails, one 
must go faster and faster to reach the 
necessary level of production they tell you 
from the first day and sometimes one loses 
consciousness, as if one becomes one with 
the machine and forms without a new 
body, a mind paralyzed. Today we weld 
the same golden hook 4,550 times from its 
metal bar. Today we cover 5,000 clothes 
racks exactly alike. Today we made 8,000 
times the same hole in the same piece with 
which some one will assemble 8,000 heat- 
ers exactly alike. Today we hooked 7,000 
rubber rings with hands submerged in 
kerosene for 8 hours. Today I spent an- 
other day in the Star Metal Corporation. 
And we run, as if affected by some sudden 
drunkenness, pushing each other, giving 
each other slaps in the rumps, in the 
shoulders, all about the clock that is elo- 
quently ticking, to punch out the tickets, 
to the little door for employees only, to 
the street, to the deafening subway tracks, 
to the day that is gone for us, to the sun 

setting far away behind the buildings, to 
the sad August breeze stirring the curtains 
in the windows of the dingy apartments, 
sweeping crushed papers and remains of 
food into the street, stripping off the 
leaves of the saddest tree that I've ever 
seen in my life on the corner of Boston 
Ave. and 174 St. 

"There they take my whole week," Rita 
said to me, pointing to the loaders who 
took out the boxes with the finished ma- 
terial. "All my creative woman energy 
made a cipher — and I don't know which 
was the piece I was assembling — generally 
we don't know, all are loose fragments, 
steel jigsaw puzzles of which none of us 
women have the final model." And for 
an instant a sparkle of hate flashed in her 
eyes. And that made me happy. There 
comes a time in which only anger is love.* 

"I am short about $50 for the rent and 
I'm behind 10 days . . . but today I'm 
sure that I won't fail," whispers Rose, 
cherishing the grimy piece of paper on 
which is noted the number that she played 
in the clandestine lottery, and 'til 3 the 
time advances faster, thinking of her pos- 
sible good fortune, and when Leroy, who 
drives the trucks comes in from the street 
and spreads in the hallways the news of 
which number appeared today, Rose will 

photo by Corky t 

*from a poem by Denise Levertov 



say "Shit" as always "I played this 2 
days, or 2 weeks" or "I lost only by a 
number, and I'm not going to play any- 
more," as always Rose, but tomorrow she 
will again believe in her good fortune, and 
in the new furniture that she will buy and 
in the dress that she saw in Alexander's 
and in the $50 that she is short for the 
rent, dear Rose ????????? 

It has been four years since my sister 
and I came from Puerto Rico, but wher- 
ever we are we are still poor. When my 
daughter finishes high school, I will find 
some easier little job. My husband lost his 
job and is collecting Welfare, but he goes 
about so nervous that half of it is spent 
Saturdays on beer. My youngest is sick 
and I don't have anyone to help me take 
care of him. Men do the same work but 
they're always making more than us wom- 
en. A riddle. A puzzle. But the key is in 
each one of us and everytime someone 
uses it, and out of the lips of Aida, out of 
Margie, of Ofelia, out of Josephine, of 
many of us, of all of us, I heard said in 
some moment I have heard said: Some 
day they will have to work if they want to 
eat if they want to live well, they'll have to 
toil, not always at the expense of the poor. 
Them, those who never show their faces 
here, those sons of bitches, the owners of 
the factories. 

In 1971 there had been more than 4 mil- 
lion Black and Latin American women 
employed in physical labor. The majority 
of these Third World women work in ser- 
vice industries as domestics, hospital 
workers, etc.; in textiles, metalurgy and to 
a lesser extent in offices. The minimum 
obligatory salary that an employer must 
pay is $1.85/hour. This makes $14.80 in a 
day of 8 hours of work and a total of 
$74/week. This basic pay is subject to 
deductions for taxes. The monthly rent of 
a small apartment in the poorest areas, in 
buildings that often do not posses the min- 
imum conditions that allow a more or 
less healthy life, is $130, the price of a 
pound of meat — $1.80, a pound of rice— 
30«, a pound of beans — 50c, a pound of 
frozen vegetables (the cheapest) — 50<t, a 
quart of milk — 35<f , round trip cost on the 
subway or bus — £70. Let us round out an 
imaginary sum of the expenses that in- 
clude clothes, footwear, house utilities, in 
addition to electricity and telephone. In 
the month of August, to begin in the 
fourth phase of the Nixon administration 
program of economic development, iron- 
ically the newspapers announced at the 
same time the meeting of economists and 
the increase of 4.69% in the cost of basic 

(continued on page 94) 

She hated the rain. Never could figure 
out what people be talkin' bout when 
they be talkin' bout gentle, refreshing, 
spring rains bathing the earth's surface! 
This nasty ass, cold, greyness pouring 
down combining with shit in the street 
sho wadn't sweet. Her wig was wet. 
Hairspray and rainwater mingled with 
perspiration and ran down her neck. Her 
feet were like blocks of ice. "Muthafuck 
this shit," she mumbled, "I'm turnin' in 
for the nite." 

As she strolled past the likker store 
she looked down the street at the 
elementary school she usta go to 
wondering what her mother would say. 
"Well, she thot, "least I ain' on 
welfare." The street was deserted. At 
three o'clock in the mornin' Webster 
and Grove looked like something out of 
a movie. She shivered and quickened her 
pace. Some putty faced pig in a blue 
chevy slowed down and while cruising 
along side he leered, "Pssst wanna date? 
Huh honey? How bout it?" She almost 
ran; she couldn't have taken another 
feebly dick, pink, hairy son of a bitch if 
he'd been shittin' fifty dollar bills. She 
walked over to Hayes St. lo and behold 
— a bus — a rare occurrence at three 
o'clock in the morning. She hopped on 
the bus, sauntered to the back hopin' 
Willie wouldn't be upset bout her not 
gettin' no whole lot of money. Shit! Wet 
as it was the mutherfucker oughtta be 
glad she got what she got. She jumped 
off the bus and motored down the street 
hopin' there was some brownies left 
cause all night she'd been wantin' 
somethin' sweet. She started up the 
stairs, slid up to the doe and laid on the 
bell. No one answered. She wondered 

what was takin' so long. Shit! Even if 
no one else was in Jackie be in. She was 
always the first one in! Sometimes she 
thot that bitch had a stash cause can't 
nobodi come up wid that much cash 
every nite! "Hell," she muttered, 
"What's wrong wid these fools?" She 
laid on the bell again. Willy usually be 
home about this time too. Finally she 
heard footsteps approaching the doe. 
They musta been fuckin'. Still that son 
of a bitch didn't have to take till 
Christmas to answer the door. She heard 
him on the other side of the door . . . 
his footsteps ... his breathing. 

Willie opened the peephole and said, 
"What cha.want?" 

"Nigger r u crazy!" she said, "what u 
think I want! Lemme in!" 

"How much cash u got?" 

"Bout seventyfive." 

"U triflin' bitch u mean u been out all 
•nite and ain't got but seventyfive 
dollars? You musta been jivin' round 
smokin' weed wid the other bitches!" 

"Willie u know better than that. I 
ain' lazy. It's jus been slow. Come on 
daddy." she wheedled, "Open the doe." 

He opened the'door, grabbing her left 
arm with his right hand, yanked her 
around and placed a well aimed patent 
leathered foot in her ass and said, 
"Bitch u get in when u got my money." 

Enraged and scared she sobbed, 
"Bu . . ., But Willie its rainin'!" 

Willie slammed the door, opened the 
peephole and tole her, 

"Walk between the raindrops baby 
walk between the raindrops." 







iiiililllli >. 


nutritious products. The majority of the 
women workers have small children, be- 
cause of the lack of nurseries and daycare 
centers they have to pay other women to 
take them during the working hours. In 
the poor areas for taking care of a child 
you get about $20 a week. Let us imagine 
once more the level of life of a woman 
worker in the U.S. of A., the richest 
country in the world, the gigantic octopus 
that sucks the veins of the people of Latin 
America, of Asia, of Africa. 

I have been working 3 months in a small 
metals factory in the South Bronx. (One 
of the 6 great urban areas that form the 
structure of the city of New York.) I work 
8 hours each day. I start at 8 a.m.. There's 
no break neither in the morning nor in the 
afternoon to rest or drink coffee, we have 
an hour from 12 to 1 to lunch. There's no 
cafeteria in the factory nor is there one 
close, so we bring our food, cold in sum- 
mer and in winter, and seated on the floor 
or on the boxes of material or on some 

work benches, we eat, with still half- 
automatic gestures, in the same landscape 
of counters dirtied with grease and dust 
forming on one side, the pieces of metal, 
turning off the electric machines, washing 
ourselves as best we can in the small bath- 
room with 3 toilets, a single little basin 
with 2 water faucets and the clothes clos- 
ets without doors with which to hang out- 
door clothes. Sometimes the weariness is 
so great that no one speaks in the first few 
minutes. Afterwards the conversation 
spreads, in one and a thousand fragments, 
in little groups, with muffled voices, as if 
one wouldn't want to break all at once the 
great lapse of silence, where the bodies re- 
acquire their natural rhythm, soft, beauti- 
fully human; where the faces relax, and 
someone whistles slowly, and someone 
shows me photographs of her children, of 
her friend on some Sunday afternoon at 
the beach. And also a type of clandestine 
market begins that happens in factorias 
(carbon copy of the word factories, like 

many others that constitute the living lan- 
guage of the hispanic in New York, and 
which takes one over, fixed in the fine 
fabric of thought and finally one uses 
them spontaneously and for this reason 
they appear as such in this chronicle) 
where our co-workers sell clothing materi- 
al, or toiletries, or kitchenware, merchan- 
dise coming from other women workers 
— friends or relatives who "expropriated" 
them from their jobs. These little expro- 
priations happen under a kind of tacit 
agreement between the woman workers 
and the bosses who generally are more or 
less aware of them, and allow for them 
provided that they happen within minimal 
margins and under the ritual of clandes- 
tinity and discretion. These exchanges, 
generate in their turn a chain of small 
debts that cut down even more the skinny 
check every week. The clandestine lottery, 
the fruit or caramel sweets that we give 
ourselves as a gift. The naively gross joke 
told by one male friend that works in the 


neighboring plant of the same factory and 
comes around at this time; the last ciga- 
rette, the yawn, the laughter, some of the 
many daily curses meant for the super- 
visors, the patched blue jeans, the old 
pumps, the stained and sweaty blouses, 
the bodies accommodating themselves 
once more in front of the machines, the 
life, so much life— like swelling, thawing 
rivers in spring, so much life devoured by 
grey smoke, for the strong boxes with 
millions and millions, with martinis, with 
glorious estates of the American Dream, 
with bombs in Cambodia, with classism 
and sexism, and racism and genocide. 
Such tender, loving life faster faster faster 
the bell has rung again. 

— Diane Bellessi 

— Translated from the Spanish 




"This creeping disease called upward mobility, it's killing us. He's so con- 
, celned about his image, his status; we've just bought this house we can't 
I afford. We are horribly in debt. I know he's worried about money. He says he 
iwlhts nice things for me and the children. I don't know anything anymore. The 
lda| we moved into this house he beat me up in front of the moving men. No 
one tried to stop him I remember thinking to myself that I must have done 
1 something to deserve this, otherwise one of the movers would have helped me. I 
C-guess they didn't want to get involved. Sometimes I think he's more interested 
in making an impression on his boss and his cocktail party friends. I still love 
\ ; him; when he's not drinking he's so decent. Each time he beats me up I tell my- 
self it will be the last time, that it just could never happen again. But it does. He 
has alienated our son. I'm afraid the boy will strike his father in defense of me. 
' The boy is confused. He hit me twice recently. His father witnessed this and 
then beat the boy for having hit me. We have everything in the world. I keep 
telling myself to count my blessings. Things could be worse. I think of tfajs 
when I remember the time my husband broke a chair over my head and the 
■ pushed me down the cellar stairs. I had to have medical attention. I told the 
i doctors that I fell down the stairs. My husband said I was lucky; that some hus- 
: bands knock their wives teeth out and break their jaws. I must be doing some- 
thing wrong.Then sometimes I say to myself, My God, no one deserves this 
1 nightmare." 

| —Testimony submitted to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Sept. 1977, -• ; 
4~, Hartford, Connecticut, during Public Hearings on Battered Women. The--^ 
testimony was given by a member of the Danbury Women's Center which 
serves women from the surrounding affluent suburbs. 



I'm talkin' about 
a sickness 

A feelin' I can 
no longer 
I've gone the 
way of 

an' can no 
longer find 
my way home 

Malcom! And I'm a thousand years 
behind the times 
Nothin' has changed 
ten years ago today I was 
trickin' in L.A. now 
I'm in New York and 
I repeat nothin' 
has changed! 
I can't find my dreams 
I don't know what 
nothin' means. 
I am alone. So ashamed 
,. I keep going but 
want to come 






I need the 

wisdom of the 
The sight of 
the soothsayers 
The salve of 
the blues 
A spiritual cathartic 

I will strangle 
in my own 

I will be but 
a parody 

of a woman 
livin' a death 
and life 
that ends 

with me, 
with an aversion 
to pain 
that only allows for 
a shallow 
mediocrity; not 

havin' the courage 
to move past 
old hurts I 
remain bound in a 
Peter Pan pubescence 
And I am at once lost 
and found unsure 
of what is mine, 
what is creation or 

imitation, forward or 

I have lost sight 
of the Blk. Will 
the seventies be 
the times of the 
the Blind 
Gropin' lost where is the vision? 
All I see is the 
crackers wasteland 
A toilet left 

Across the aisle from 
me on the subway 
a nigger in pink 
jeans reads Ebony 
magazine his 

hair pressed and 
Elijah why did u leave us! 

All I think of is gigs 
costumes, gettin' slim, tryin' to MAKE 
IT actin', dancin', maybe a play 
on Broadway like Zaki 
All the while the race 
among the races is 
at a crucial point 
the survival of my peole 
is at stake 
and I have elected 
to spend my days 
in petty pursuit 
of pieces of the 
pie. The shit 

pie. I 
am sick. I don't know 
what it will take 
to get me 
well. Malcom is not goin' to rise 

again. Panthers played out. Elijah is dead. 
Processes is back. I can't talk about nobodi cause 
I wear wigs. I can't write warrior poems talkin' 
clean up the community cause I would 
have to wash myself 
away. I am a 
part of the 
perversion that 
permeates our 
Blk children can 
pass by taverns 
and see me 
on a platform 

g-stringed and gyratin' 
cursin' on subways 
and street corners 
see me wid wite boys 
and women. I 

hear me 




a nd do not know 

what to do about 

it. I have 
come from the sixties to the 
seventies. From being 
the solution to 
being the 
They should stone me/US 
1 did not get this way ALONE. 
1 am a product of 
humiliations, drowned dreams 
and betrayals. It is 
not all the time what 
it seems. I tried/ 
tryin' and am still 
gettin' up 
I know in the end 
it will be better 
than it was an' 
cannot berate myself 
: cause of limited 

survival mechanisms 
I am gettin' up 
J and gettin' on 

Comin' home! 
and don't 
want no static 
bout where 
I been. I'm 
comin' HOME an' 
like the bible say 
"let he who is 
without sin 
cast the first 
J.; stone" 

i I got to move past old ways 

sometimes I jus' don't know how 

;s .. 1 could be doin' better 

but I could be doin' 
■Sijiw worse 

1 I have heard of those 

who walk the way 
of the new world. I don't 
r . know how I came to always 

be on the outside 

lookin' in. Enlightened 
ones do not leaves us. Oh robe 
|, wearin'/Blk talkin'/knowledgable 

f ones love us be 

f . like my grandmother 

| . whose prayers has 

I ; endured past all things 

1 when the dancers stopped dancin' 

I poets stopped poetin' 

% men stopped lovin', her 

prayers endured I 
•j remember her 

1 when ideologies 

Kings and other things had 
let me down and if 
you can be like she - 
and never turn 
your back on 
your children 
She said "go grow but don't 
forget you can/must always 
come home" 


4) I have much 
good to give 

But don't feel 
I have long 
to live 

5) changes pain 

6) On the subway 

people look at u 

like u crazy 
I was with a trick 

last nite 
Oh god! ain't no use 
me talkin' about 

it cause u can't know less 
u been there. This nauseating 

monkey/his hands with the nubs 
factories had left him for fingers/cadillac/whiskey 
drinkin' talkin' bout is it good?/u got 

good pussy girl/tight stuff/lemme rub it/lemme suck it good for u/ 
lemme grab some of dat tittie/ 

lemme rub— I'm not gonna put it back in— come on no 
I'm gonna give u two twenty dollar bills/Do u suck?/ 
Aw honey u sumptin' else/I sho likes u/yo skin smooth as butter/ 
come to daddy lemme suck dat tittie 

It was makin' me wanna die vomit 
the rent/tokens/dance classes/food/taxis/clothes 


made me bite my lip an' say 

Oh baby/it feels so good/Ahhh/Oh yeah honey 
do it daddy 

7) I feel empty 

unfinished like 
this poem 
which has 

no appropriate 


When my rapist knocked on the door a few weeks later,- 1 laughed to myself. 
Not only did he have to answer my "Who's there?" but also my "Whaddaya 
want?" Rural neighborliness long lost, replaced at first by the fear any country 
girl learns in her first moment in the Greyhound terminal and over time by the 
acquired deference to cities that true hicks are known for, my joviality and wit 
took over. The fake brass deadbolt between him and me, less cumbersome than 
a chastity belt, made me grin. The best defense is a good offense, my friend 
Katy had said by way of advice on my first night tricking. With equally off- 
handed practicality I got rid of him. 

When I had both stopped shaking and started eating pea soup with a friend 
who could not lend me his silver Cordoba with maroon leather interior, I fin- 
ally sighed. I didn't want pea soup and I did want to roll my terror around town 
in a tinted glass cocoon. Self-indulgence didn't seem like such an unmeritorious 
hedge against the female condition. Nobody has to know why you order extra 
croissants or weekly daffodils or something from the Tupperware woman at 
work. You don't have to tell some Dagwood that you're Blondie today. After 
all, I even worked rapists now. 

When several months had passed, I cried. Admittedly I pitied myself at the 
lack of my own Cordoba but since deep inside I really wanted a navy Mercedes 
top-of-the-line sporty job, I knew the tears were real. Tricking having given 
way long ago to the notion that if I was my own pimp, why trick, I had kept 
myself busy nosing around used car lots after five. Less in control of my 
income, I had more time to rant to myself about injustice. 

I had started crying when I saw a dented rich-blue Riviera but stopped 
temporarily as I passed the slick operator's lot full of shiny red muscle cars with 
jacked-up rear ends. Their implicitly bankrupt, young, previous owners, 
country fellows living in town now, had annoyed me once with cheap-skate 
attitudes and downright ignorance. Apparently they also didn't know how to 
buy cars. But when I looked a second time at the row of raised behinds, all 
stickered at a good grand above their next owners' ignorant ability to pay, I 
knew I had been crying for a reason. 

When I thought about the navy Mercedes — from time to time — I was grati- 
fied by its unattainability. Why whore when you can dream with no effort, I 
must have said one offensive day, tearlessly. So years after tricking, when I was 
raped in my living room by a welcomed acquaintance who asked for a ride 
home after, I rocked with some Comfort while he caught a cab in the street 
below. In the country there are lots of rocking chairs but no cabs. No escapes 
that aren't of your own making. No easy ways to send tedious callers away 
without inhospitably admitting that you were dubious about answering the bell. 
No social conventions that allow selectivity among passers-by. No deadbolts to 
guard your dreams. 

I started to cry again by the Lincoln-Mercury showroom as rusty Impalas 
and a lot of foreign makes whizzed by. I don't like Cougars — they get tawdry 
with age — and Continentals remind me of Dagwood's cartoon dreams. This is 
serious, Katy might have said. So much ugly metal perpetrated on all kinds of 
people, I reflected, adding to myself, What has Ralph Nader done about rape, 
anyway? But keeping my injustices in perspective, I shifted to acknowledge a 
right-on-red turn by some hurried 'Vette and noted that if I was crying, it was 

In the city it's easy enough to come in out of the rain. Nobody yells, Shut the 
damn door — were you brought up in a barn? Nobody sighs, It's busier in 
here'n Grand Central Station. Nobody gives a hoot if you're crying as long as 
you don't talk to the other customers or drool. Nobody cares how you make a 
buck as long as you pay for coffee with something smaller than a five and don't 
park in their loading zone. So you can sit where it's warm and think about a 
Mercedes and weep with indulgence. The waitress might glower to let you know 
that after work she returns to some block where people don't cry — or 
drool — but if you put the tip by the saucer early on, you're permitted sadness. 
As long as you're not a regular and know she's a lying creampuff who cried 
over Lynda Bird's and Tricia's weddings. 

He came in with a woman who had worked the three best hotels for years 
now — with impunity because her takers, hardly gentlemen but quiet anyway, 
were as lackluster about it all as she. Maybe she didn't like clothes or cars, or in 
choosing not to have a habit had chosen not to get desperate. She exchanged 
rain talk with the waitress. Now he was doing the glowering, but he also, I 
noted, paid for the coffee. As city folks do, we exchanged glances without 
recognition, my tears having stopped lest I look vulnerable to Rag Lady 
drooling nearby, or suspicious to the female undercover cop checking her 
crowsfeet in the mirror behind the pie cabinet. For a moment I laughed to 
myself again and then, sick all over, lost myself in the swarm of cars outside. 


Kssa e a m^^Kmz 

H, 4 


1- immetsM 


— Diane Solomon 

Women have always had to defend them- 
selves against physical and sexual assaults 
by their husbands, lovers, friends or 
strangers. Recently, however, women are 
consciously refusing to accept this abuse, 
and the public is increasingly aware of the 
failure of courts and police to protect 
women who face these assaults. Women 
charged with homicide in response to 
abuse formerly pled guilty or pled insanity 
and were routinely convicted. They are 
now speaking out about their circum- 
stances, describing the reasons for their 
actions, and asserting an equal right with 
men to defend themselves. 

National attention on women "fighting 
back" first focused on Inez Garcia and 
Joan Little, who killed assailants follow- 
ing sexual assaults. 1 Women who defend 
themselves against wife assault 2 or who, 
like Yvonne Wanrow, defend their chil- 
dren against sexual or physical abuse, 
have also attracted national attention. 3 
These women have become the subjects of 
considerable controversy, largely because 
they challenge historically accepted no- 
tions of women's roles. 4 

For lawyers representing the women 
charged with these homicides, the legal 
and political problems posed by the out- 
spoken statement of women's self-defense 
are complex. The task for the lawyer is 
one of evaluating the facts of the case free 
from bias and sex-stereotyping, and then 
constructing and presenting a defense in 
the courtroom that is likewise free from 
bias and sex-stereotyping. Unfortunately, 
even lawyers sensitive to the problems of 
sex discrimination in other areas share 
these biases. 

This article is intended to aid attorneys 
representing women who commit homi- 
cides after they have been physically or 
sexually assaulted or after their children 
have been molested or abused. As crim- 
inal defense lawyers who have been 
involved in the representation of women 
who assert their right to defend them- 
selves against such abuse, the authors 
have explored the particular problems 
which arise in these cases. As women 

involved in the women's movement, our 
thinking and approach reflect an analysis 
of women's experience as understood and 
developed by feminist theory. Our interest 
is in developing a legal analysis which 
incorporates women's experiences and 
perspectives into existing concepts of 
criminal law. 

Our analysis assumes that an act of 
homicide by a woman is reasonable to the 
same extent that it is reasonable when 
committed by a man. We do not argue for 
a separate legal standard for women. 
However, sex-based stereotypical views of 
women, especially women who act vio- 
lently, and a male orientation built into 
the law prevent an equal application of 
the law. 

The approach we present identifies the 
myths and misconceptions held about 
women and seeks to remove them from 
the trial and defense process. The goal of 
this analysis is the presentation to the jury 
of the defendant's conduct as reasonable. 
The crucial point to be conveyed to judge 
and jury is that, due to a variety of socie- 
tally based factors, a woman may reason- 
ably perceive imminent and lethal danger 
in a situation in which a man might not. 
This perception will justify for her, as it 
would for a man who perceives such dan- 
ger, recourse to deadly force. Not only 
has this approach been successful, but 
failure to apply it has resulted in unneces- 
sary convictions. 5 

In representing women who commit 
what they believe to be an act of justi- 
fiable homicide, choice of defense and 
implementation of that defense in the 
courtroom are the two fundamental prob- 
lems. First, the facts must be thoroughly 
explored and evaluated, and the defen- 
dant's perception of her actions under- 
stood. Choice of defense must be based 
on the defendant's and lawyer's percep- 
tions of these actions together with an 
analysis of available legal defenses. 
Analysis of the woman's case must take 
into account her circumstances and her 
reasons for committing a homicide. This 
will give the lawyer insight into her state 
of mind, as well as how to translate it to 

the jury. It will affect every aspect of the 
courtroom presentation including voir 
dire, jury selection, education of the 
judge, use of expert witnesses and jury 

We believe that a self-defense approach 
should be thoroughly explored as a first 
step. The traditional view of women who 
commit violent crimes is that their action 
was irrational or insane. Consequently, an 
impaired mental state defense 6 has often 
been relied on automatically. We start 
from the premise that a woman who kills 
is no more "out of her mind" than a man 
who kills. Our work has shown that the 
circumstances which require a woman to 
commit homicide in these cases can 
demonstrate that her act was reasonable 
and necessary. Accordingly, the homicide 
should be defended as self-defense where 
possible, although an impaired mental 
state defense may be appropriate in a 
given case. 

This article will discuss the historical, 
social and legal context of the problem, 
and the issues and implications involved in 
choosing a defense. We will also explore 
the strategic problems of implementing 
the defense in the courtroom. An under- 
standing of each of these areas is neces- 
sary in order to incorporate the woman 
defendant's perspective into the trial 


Women who commit violent crimes have 
been almost completely ignored by crimi 
nologists, lawyers, penologists and social 
scientists. 7 While these women may figure 
mythically in American culture, 8 only re- 
cently have they commanded any serious 
attention. 9 Historically, criminological lit- 
erature portrayed women who. committed 
violent crimes as "more terrible than the 
male," with propensities for evil "more 
intense and more perverse" than their 
male counterparts. 10 The criminologists' 
view that these women "somehow betray 
their womanhood by venturing out into a 
reserve of men," 11 has continued in cur- 
rent literature. 12 


One result of this view is the notion that 
increasing numbers of women are com- 
mitting violent crimes because of the 
improved status of women. Information 
available on women criminal offenders, 
however, bears out neither the historical 
portrait nor the assertion that killing by 
women is on the rise. Of all homicide ar- 
rests, the number of women arrested has 
remained at a stable 15%. 13 It appears, 
however, that convictions of women are 
increasing. 14 Women who are convicted 
are thought to be more dangerous than 
men, and are often sentenced to longer 
prison terms. 15 Women usually kill men, 
not women, 16 and women charged with 
homicide have the least extensive prior 
criminal records of any female offend- 
ers. 17 In fact, the homicides women com- 
mit frequently arise out of "domestic 
disturbances" in which they are forced to 
defend themselves. 18 Indeed, a recent 
study found that 40% of the women in- 
carcerated in Chicago's Cook County jail 
for homicide had killed their husbands or 
lovers as a result of physical abuse. 19 In 
spouse killings, wives are motivated by 
self-defense almost seven times as often as 
are husbands. 20 In this context, a woman 
who kills a man is not insane; she may be 
saving her own life. 

Women are forced to defend themselves 
against abuse because they do not receive 
adequate protection from the courts or 
from the police. 21 The legal system pro- 
vides almost no protection for a woman 
abused by her husband. Similarly, the 
chance of securing a conviction for a rape 
is small. Women's need to protect them- 
selves must be understood in the context 
of the failure of judicial and law enforce- 
ment authorities to protect abused 

Inadequate treatment of rape victims by 
the judicial system and law enforcement 
agencies has been well documented. 22 Al- 
though rape is inherently a violent 
crime, 23 it is not treated with the same ser- 
iousness as other violent crimes. 24 While 
rape has increased by 226.3%, the highest 
percentage increase of any crime against 
the person since I960, 25 it also has the 
highest rate of acquittal or dismissal, 26 
with only one out of seven reported rapes 
resulting in conviction. 27 

The rape victim is often treated cal- 
lously by law enforcement authorities. 
She is seen not as a legitimate victim of 
crime, but as a temptress precipitating 
rape. 28 Beginning with the decision to 
prosecute, 29 this view infects every stage 
of the process. Evidentiary require- 

ments, 30 jury instructions, 31 and jurors' 32 
and judges' 33 attitudes reflect the biased 
treatment of the rape victim. Women 
filing rape charges know that they will 
have to subject themselves to the "initial 
emotional trauma of submitting to official 
investigatory processes . . . subsequent hu- 
miliation through attendant publicity and 
embarrassment at trial through defense 
tactics which are often demeaning," 34 

Women who are the victims of wife as- 
sault are also without remedy from the 
police or courts. 35 Neither the police nor 
the family courts will interfere with do- 
mestic violence. A marriage license is 
viewed as giving a husband permission to 
do what he wants with and to his wife 
Police enforcement of those court orders 
which do issue against husbands is non- 
existent or meaningless. 36 This inadequate 
protection has serious consequences for 
women, since it is estimated that one-third 
to one-half of all married women experi- 
ence brutality at the hands of their hus- 
bands. 37 These incidents of domestic 
violence commonly result in serious physir 
cal injury or death for the woman. 38 In 
many of these cases, police had been sum 
moned at least once before the killing 
occurred. 39 This high and deadly inci 
(continued on page 102) 


dence of wife assault must be viewed with 
an understanding that many women are 
forced to remain with their husbands out 
of economic necessity or fear of retalia- 
tion. These problems are compounded by 
the shamefully few resources available to 
shelter battered women. 

The problem of lack of police 
protection is greatly exacerbated for poor 
and minority women. While sexual and 
physical assaults plague women from all 
economic and racial backgrounds, the ju- 
dicial and law enforcement systems are 
even less responsive to women from min- 
ority and poor communities. These com- 
munities suffer from severely reduced ser- 
vices. 40 As a result, women from these 
communities have greater difficulty in get- 
ting a police officer to respond to a "do- 
mestic disturbance" call. If the woman 
does succeed in processing a complaint, 
she is likely to be treated even less respon- 
sively than other abused women. The class 
and racial biases of the judicial and law en- 
forcement systems will compound their al- 
ready hostile attitude toward abused wom- 

Thus, lack of adequate police protec- 
tion creates a situation in which a woman 
may feel it necessary to respond in self- 
defense to a potentially lethal battery or 
sexual assault. Ironically, the same court 
and law enforcement system will prosecute 
her for responding in the only manner left 
open to her. 


Choice of defense is the threshold issue in 
representing abused women charged with 
homicides. This process can only begin, 
however, when the stereotypes and impli- 
cations of available defenses are under- 
stood. Stereotypes of these defenses may 
even subconsciously control fundamental 
information elicited from the defendant 

which forms the basis of choice of de- 

Although in any given case there may be 
many legal and factual defenses available, 
we have limited the focus of this article to 
two major categories of legal defenses: 
self-defense and impaired mental state. 
Our work and experience is in the area of 
self-defense, but we believe that an explo- 
ration of the general law and social 
implications involved in both defenses will 
provide a useful framework for analysis of 
proper choice of defense. 

A. The theory of justifiable homicide and 
its intrinsic sex bias 

Not all homicides are punished. The law 
has always excused certain killings, calling 
them justifiable homicides. Persons who 
kill in defense of their own lives, the lives 
of others, or in defense of their property 
are entitled to a determination that the 
killing was justifiable. 

Homicide itself is not a crime, but a 
class of offenses, graded according to the 
mental state and turpitude of the defend- 
ant. 41 Generally, the class is divided into 
first- and second-degree murder, volunta- 
ry and involuntary manslaughter. 42 Proof 
of a killing in the sudden heat of passion 
upon sufficient provocation generally 
reduces a killing to manslaughter. 43 A 
successful plea of self-defense is a 
complete defense and results in an acquit- 
tal. 44 

Standards of justifiable homicide have 
been based on male models and expecta- 
tions. Familiar images of self-defense are a 
soldier, a man protecting his home, family, 
or the chastity of his wife or a man fighting 
off an assailant. Society, through its pros- 
ecutors, juries and judges, has more readi- 
ly excused a man for killing his wife's lover 
than a woman for killing a rapist. The acts 
of men and women are subject to a differ- 
ent set of legal expectations and standards. 
The man's act, while not always legally 
condoned, is viewed sympathetically. He 
is - not forgiven, but his motivation is 
understood by those sitting in judgment 
upon his act since this conduct conforms 
to the expectation that a real man would 
fight to the death to protect his pride and 
property. The paramour laws, which 
permitted a husband to kill another man 
he caught in flagrante delicto with his 
wife, are an explicit expression of societal 
sympathy for such an act. 45 The law, how- 
ever, has never protected a wife who killed 
her husband after finding him with 
another woman. A woman's husband sim- 
ply does not belong to her in the same way 
that she belongs to him. 46 

The law clearly does not permit a worn 
an to protect herself to the same extent 
that a man may protect himself. Case law, 
for example, allows the use of deadly force 
to prevent forcible sodomy between 
males, 47 but has not yet sanctioned a 
woman's right to use deadly force to repel 
a rape. Underlying this distinction is the 
belief that the invasion of a man's body is 
a more egregious offense than the invasion 
of a woman's body. Conceptions of why a 
woman kills a rapist are also laden with 
sex-based stereotypes. The juror's state 
ment in Inez Garcia's first trial that "you 
can't kill someone for trying to give you a 
good time" 48 demonstrates the saparate 
standard of justifiable homicide for men 
and women. 

As presently applied, the law of self- 
defense does not take into account wom- 
en's perspectives and circumstances. The 
law reflects and embodies society's biases 
and its expectations of women. Thus, 
while the courts have begun to acknow 
ledge the subtlety of sex discrimination in 
other areas, 49 the law of self-defense has 
barely begun to reflect this change. 50 

B. Sex bias in the perception of imminent 
danger and the use of deadly force 

Homicide is justifiable in self-defense if 
the act can be shown to be reasonable. 
There must be "a reasonable ground to 
apprehend a design on the part of the per- 
son slain to commit a felony or to do some 
great personal injury to the slayer or to 
any such person, and there is imminent 
danger of such design being accom- 
plished." 5 ! The act must be reasonable on 
two counts. The person claiming self- 
defense must have a reasonable apprehen- 
sion of danger and a reasonable percep- 
tion of the imminence of that danger. 
While divisible into two aspects, the stan- 
dard is often expressed as reasonable 
grounds to apprehend imminent death or 
grievous bodily harm. 52 Although the 
standard to be applied in evaluating rea- 
sonableness differs from state to state, it is 
generally defined as the perception of both 
apprehension and imminent danger from 
the individual's own perspective. 53 

In several respects the law of self- 
defense allows the defendant to have been 
reasonable but wrong. Thus, in determin- 
ing reasonableness, the law takes into ac- 
count the effect of danger and fear on a 
person's perception of the situation. As 
Justice Holmes said,"The law does require 
detached reflection in the presence of an 
upraised knife." 54 The law of self-defense 
also applies when the danger, although 



reasonably perceived, is not borne out by 
events. For example, when confronted by 
an attacker who is known to carry a wea- 
pon and appears to be reaching for it, a 
person may reasonably believe herself to 
be in imminent danger, even if the attacker 
turns out to be unarmed. 55 

Legally, for self-defense purposes, there 
are two kinds of force. 56 Force that could 
produce death or serious injury (deadly 
force), and force that could not. Generally, 
like force can only be used against like 
force. 57 Deadly force cannot be used 
against nondeadly force. A person may 
respond to an attack with equal and oppo- 
site force and nothing greater. Tradition- 
ally, this is true even if a person is jumped 
on the street by an unknown assailant or if 
the person is weaker than her attacker. 
However, if the attacker uses a weapon or 
his greater physical strength to render his 
victim helpless, and the victim has reason 
to believe that death or serious injury is 
imminent, the victim may respond with 
deadly force. 

The law of self-defense does not take 
into account women's perspectives and the 
circumstances under which women are 
forced to respond. The attorney consider- 
ing a defense of self-defense must there- 
fore explore and understand these prob- 
lems. This will affect both the advisability 
of such a defense and the jury's ability to 
understand and perceive the woman's ac- 
tions as reasonable. This presentation is 
the crux of a self-defense justification. 
Views of self-defense that prevent the 
woman's actions from appearing as 
reasonable as a man's must be eliminated 
from the trial process. 

Sex bias permeates the legal doctrine re- 
garding the perception of imminent and 
lethal danger. The law assumes that both 
the attacker and the victim have approx- 
imately equal capacities. While a man is 
assumed to have the ability to perceive 
danger accurately and respond appropri- 
ately, a woman is viewed as responding 
hysterically and inappropriately to physi- 
cal threat. However, certain factors rele- 
vant to women's experiences are not taken 
into account. For example, women are less 
likely to have had training or experience in 
hand-to-hand fighting. Socially imposed 
proscriptions inhibit their ability to fend 
off an attacker. The fact that women gen- 
erally are of slighter build also gives a male 
assailant an advantage. All of these condi- 
tions will have an impact on the reason- 
ableness of a woman's perception of an 
imminent and lethal threat to her life such 
as would justify the use of deadly force. 

(continued on page 104) 


the doctor wants to know. 


the doctor with no face grunts 

shoving a gloved hand up my cunt. 

I say he came in 

through the door 

he came up behind me 

came in like he lived there 

or like it's just another hallway 

to piss in 

like he owned it, 

like you. 


the cops want to know 

guns and nightsticks swinging 

from their hips 


I say he had the force of a sudden 

the strength of a desperate child 
the power of knowing what he wanted. 


they ask staring. 

I say he had himself; the advantage of 

He seemed to think that was enough, 



I am forgetting his hands 

I want to forget his hands 

(the horror of those hands . . . long, 

slender . . . 
like other hands I love caressing . . . 

but those hands . . .) 
like hammers like clamps 
like claws 

I say yes he had weapons I believe 
he had a whole arsenal of weapons 
it is likely he is supplied by a 
conspiracy furnishing arms. 

they ask leaning in. 

yes I say meekly and old porn films 

flicker across their lips and 

I scream I didn't know it was against 

the law 
I didn't see the sign "Go home alone at 

your own risk!" 

asks the official form 

I write: dressed then as I am now I was 

as nude 
as exposed as this; 
he was naked as a knife. 

the detective wants to know. 
he asks from the back 
of a fat scrapbook. 

I say I see him 


the blue boys soothe. 

I say if I see him I will call 

on all the will power I have 

to forget he's human. 

I will kill him. 

Now now little lady they murmur 
you just let us handle this after all 
you have to understand he's young 

crazy poor . . . 
I understand I say that he & I don't 

anything but your dinner or 
put another way 
two victims only make a right 
to change the whole 

Elaine McCarthy 


These factors, however, have not usually 
been considered during the trial. 

C. Presenting the woman's perspective 

Even where the standard of self-defense is 
that of the person's own perception of the 
circumstances, it is difficult to apply this 
standard to the woman defendant. 58 Not 
only are the circumstances under which 
women are forced to defend themselves 
entirely different from those which cause 
men to commit homicides, but the wom- 
en's state of mind is different as well. Pre- 
senting the individual woman's perspec- 
tive in the trial means educating the judge 
and jury about the incidence and severity 
of the problems of rape, wife assault, and 
child abuse and molestation to the extent 
that they explain the defendant's conduct. 
It also means educating them about the 
lack of judicial and social alternatives 
available to women in these situations and 
combatting specific myths: for example, 
that a woman who kills a man is insane or 
that women enjoy rape. 

State v. Wanrow 59 is an example of the 
sdccessful implementation of this strategy. 
In appealing Yvonne Wanrow's conviction 
for felony-murder and first-degree assault, 
counsel challenged the lower court's self- 
defense jury instruction on the ground 
that it did not fully include the woman's 
perspective. 60 This was argued on two sep- 
arate grounds. 61 First, counsel argued that 
the instruction failed to direct the jury to 
apply correctly the Washington standard 
of self-defense. This standard would re- 
quire the jury to consider the defendant's 
action "seeing what [s]he sees and know- 
ing what [s]he knows," taking into ac- 
count all the circumstances as she knew 
them at the time. 62 Second, counsel ar- 
gued that the failure to apply this standard 
was particularly prejudicial to a female 
defendant. The tone of the instruction 
and the persistent use of the masculine 
gender left the jury with the impression 
that the standard to be applied was that 
applicable to a fight between two men 
rather than a small woman facing a large 

In a landmark decision, the Supreme 
Court of Washington in Wanrow reversed 
the conviction on both grounds. 63 Ac- 
knowledging the threat to equal protection 
inherent in the failure to include a wom- 
an's perspective in the law of self-defense, 
the Court noted: 

[This instruction] leaves the jury with the 
impression the objective standard to be ap- 
plied is that applicable to an altercation be- 

tween two men. The impression created — 
that a 5'4" woman with a cast on her leg 
and using a crutch must, under the law, 
somehow repel an assault by a 6'2" in- 
toxicated man without employing weapons 
in her defense, unless the jury finds her 
determination of the degree of danger to 
be objectively reasonable — constitutes a 
separate and distinct misstatement of the 
law and, in the context of this case, vio- 
lates the respondent's right to equal pro- 
tection of the law. The respondent was en- 
titled to have the jury consider her actions 
in the light of her own perceptions of the 
situation, including those perceptions 
which were the product of our nation's 
"long and unfortunate history of sex dis- 
crimination." Until such time as the ef- 
fects of that history are eradicated, care 
must be taken to assure that our self-de- 
fense instructions afford women the right 
to have their conduct judged in the light of 
the individual handicaps which are the 
product of sex discrimination. To fail to 
do so is to deny the right of the individual 
woman involved to trial by the same rules 
which are applicable to male defendants. 64 

This application of a woman's perspec- 
tive to the law of self-defense is a water- 
shed in judicial recognition of women's 
right to self-defense. The court in Wanrow 
clearly validated the argument that equal 
protection of the law requires that the jury 
consider a defendant's actions "in the 
light of her own perceptions of the situa- 
tion"" The specific aspects of the 
woman's perception mentioned by the 
court in Wanrow need to be particularly 
addressed by defense counsel in future 
cases. These issues are discussed in the fol- 
lowing section. 

D. Defense issues 

A Women 's perceptions of danger — The 
"role-typing which society has long im- 
posed" 66 has relegated women to a posi- 
tion of second-class status with respect to 
their abilities to defend themselves. Wom- 
en have been denied equal opportunity 
and access to physical training and ath- 
letics. 67 They have been discouraged from 
learning how to defend themselves physi- 
cally because such behavior would be "un- 
feminine." Women are socialized to be 
less active physically, not to display physi- 
cal aggression and to be more afraid of 
physical pain than men. 68 These problems 
are exacerbated by the fact that most 
women are physically smaller than men. 

Women who have learned to associate 
femininity with being weak and helpless 
experience great anxiety when confronted 
with a situation where they must display 
aggression. 69 Relative size, socialized self- 
perceptions about helplessness and gener- 
ally poor physical training influence wom- 
en's perceptions of danger. These circum- 

stances must be included, as noted by the 
Wanrow court, within the standard of 
self-defense. 70 

2. Women 's need to use weapons — Tradi- 
tional legal theory virtually ignores the 
problem of how a small unarmed woman, 
or anyone without self-defense skills, can 
cope with an attack by a large unarmed 
man whom she perceives as threatening 
her life. The legal responses have been 
couched within a male standard of physi- 
cal equals: deadly force can only be used 
to meet deadly force. 71 When perceived 
by a woman, however, the fist or the body 
of the large male may itself be the deadly 
weapon. The woman who feels ill- 
equipped to defend herself with her fists 
may feel that her only resort is use of a 
weapon. The Washington Supreme Court 
implicitly recognized this fact. Its ruling 
against the challenged instruction was 
based, in part, on the fact that the instruc- 
tions in Wanrow left the jury with the im- 
pression that a small encumbered woman 
could legally defend against a large intoxi- 
cated man only if she did so without em- 
ploying weapons. 72 

The special circumstances that may re- 
quire a woman to use a weapon must be 
fully explained in the trial. The jury must 
be allowed to consider the relative size of 
the woman, her lack of access to self- 
defense training and her possible need to 
resort to a weapon when faced with an un- 
armed assailant. This approach equalize 
the application of the law to women by in- 
corporating the woman's perspective into 
the deadly force standard and other stan- 
dards of self-defense. 

3. Provocation and time restrictions — 
The court in Wanrow recognized that a 
narrow time restriction wrongfully limits 
the jury's consideration to the event imme- 
diately preceding the homicide. 73 Restric- 
tion of this kind violates the rule that all 
the circumstances should be taken into ac- 
count, even those that precede the incident 
by a long period of time. A victim's con- 
duct preceding a homicide is generally 
viewed as relevant to explain the reason- 
ableness of the defendant's actions. In a 
woman defendant's self-defense case the 
events of recent moments, days, weeks 
and months may be admissible to show 
that the defendant was provoked into the 
homicidal act. 

The relevance and admissibility of the 
decedent's acts preceding the homicide are 
not limited to showing provocation. Their 
effect on the defendant's own perception 
of the situation may also be demonstrated. 

(continued on page 106) 


I s KRESIKS is free upon request to won 

io prisons and snental insitutions. 

Dedicated to our friends of Bedford Hills, without whose 
constant strength and guidance we couldn't go on 

If you want to understand what Hell is all 
about, take a short trip into the barred 
realm of a women's prison. This is a jour- 
ney in time and space, a reality appearing 
so Kafkaesque that it resembles science 
fiction, a different dimension. Here a 
whole colony of women live in oblivion; 
sleepwalk, more dead than alive. In the 
total absence of attention from the out- 
side world, they become easy targets for a 
system which feels free to treat them like 
animals, to harass them while they are too 
powerless to fight back. Those who do de- 
cide to fight take the brunt and serve as 
disciplinary examples to the rest, the fast- 
er for everyone to learn how to survive 
without making trouble, without dignity, 
without the memory of what it is to be 
yourself, a human being, a woman. 

Prison is a cage. Yet so is a tenement in 
the ghetto. So is the typing pool of a cor- 
poration. So is a factory. So is even the 
isolation of a suburban dollhouse. There 
are cages and cages. Prison is the cage 

where even the illusion of freedom is re- 
moved from your dreams. 

Women are targets of violence on the 
streets, in the family, at work, on welfare. 
Their assailants are men they don't know 
and men they love, the state, the system, 
society at large. .This violence grows like 
cancer and becomes itself a powerful pris- 
son from which there is no escape. It is 
perhaps easier to jump the fence at Bed- 
ford Hills than to overcome the societal 
dictatorship which deprives women of 
their self-respect, their integrity, their 
safety, their means for survival. These in- 
visible bars to self-fulfillment and survival 
are unbending and hard; they are the rea- 
sons why women ultimately end up in 
prison. One prison simply leads to 

Prisons in general are concentration 
camps. They are the places where the 
poor, those with the wrong color of skin, 
the wrong kind of language, the wrong 
background, the wrong political ideas can 

be contained, isolated and held responsi- 
ble for the failures and crises of society at 

The ultimate hypocrisy of our system is 
that it creates a class of oppressed and 
desperate people and then turns around 
and blames these very people for the tra- 
gedy of their situation. Blaming the victim 
is a ploy the system— any system—uses in 
order to round up and put away the un- 
wanted elements of the population and 
make it look like justice. Meanwhile, the 
rich and powerful, who commit big-time 
murder through war, big-time robbery by 
living off the oppression of the poor-they 
go free and prosper. All poor and Third 
World people are subject to this ploy. But 
those who have it worst are Third World, 
lower-class women. To them, even the re- 
stricted prospects available to women of 
higher classes, especially white women, 
such as education, better jobs, some lei- 
sure, some freedom from constant re- 
sponsibility and worry — all are denied. 
What they get instead is the threat of 
forced sterilization aiming at the ultimate 
genocide of their race or class, children 
they can't feed, menial jobs, slave wages, 
the superpatriarchal oppression of the 

welfare system. (continued on page 107) 


The reasonableness of her response does 
not depend on one overt act, but on "all 
the circumstances as they appeared to her 
at that time." 75 Thus, any previous 
experience the woman has had with her as- 
sailant or any frightening information she 
may know or believe to be true about him 
may be crucial to establishing her state of 
mind. Similarly, the entire course of the 
decedent's conduct must be taken into ac- 
count in determining whether the defen- 
dant acted reasonably. 76 

4. Decedent's reputation for violence — 
The decedent's general reputation for vio- 
lence or his prior commission of specific 
acts or threats of violence is clearly rele- 
vant and crucial to the reasonableness of a 
woman's conduct in apprehending danger 
of imminent bodily harm. Generally, 
proof of the decedent's reputation for vio- 
lence, if known to the defendant, is admis- 
sible to show who was the aggressor in the 
attack. It can also be used to support the 
reasonableness of the defendant's con- 
duct. It is almost universally held that once 
the defendant has produced evidence that 
the deceased attacked her, she may intro- 
duce testimony of the reputation of the de- 
ceased for violence. 77 If the deceased had 
earlier threatened or violently assaulted 
the defendant, there is support for the 
proposition that a quicker, harsher re- 
sponse was justifiable. 78 

This type of evidence puts before the 
jury a clearer picture of the person against 
whom the woman was defending. An indi- 
vidual may not be justified in using a wea- 
pon against a man about whom she knows 
nothing. However, she may be perfectly 
and reasonably justified in reaching for a 
weapon against a man whom she knows to 
be violent. While it is critical to develop 
this area in any self-defense case, it is par- 
ticularly important in cases involving 
women. In such cases, the assailant's repu- 
tation for violence may have had a more 
severe impact on the state of mind of a 
woman who feels unable to defend herself. 
This may be especially true for the woman 
who has been denied judicial or law en- 
forcement protection. 

5. Rage — Many people, including many 
lawyers, think that if a woman's response 
is even partially motivated by anger at the 
victim, the defense of self-defense is pre- 
cluded. 79 However, in cases involving 
rape, sexual assault or wife assault, rage is 
a perfectly legitimate response, and a self- 

defense defense should not automatically 
be ruled out. 

As women become increasingly educat- 
ed and self-conscious about the problems 
of rape, child molestation and wife assault, 
rage may well be one of the several. com- 
ponents of a woman's mental state at the 
time she responds. Viewed from the wom- 
an's perspective, it is apparent that the ab- 
sence of anger would be abnormal and un- 
reasonable. A reasonable and self-protec- 
tive response to the situation may well be 
rage rather than acceptance. To some ex- 
tent, this may include the urge to retali- 
ate. 80. 

Traditionally, retaliation and anger 
have no place in the self-defense exception 
to homicide culpability. 81 In responding to 
an attack, however, rage is rarely the sole 
motivating force. 82 A woman's state of 
mind at the time of the homicide is com- 
plex. It probably includes some feeling of 
fear (immediate or otherwise), rage, panic, 
humiliation, shame, abject terror and an 
excited state of mind in which judgment is 
impaired. The degree and importance of 
each of these factors vary from case to 
case. If rage is put before the jury within 
the context of the other emotions that 
naturally and reasonably accompany it, 
the rage will be perceived as reasonable. 
This approach no longer conflicts with the 
assertion of self-defense. 

Even though rage can be an acknowl- 
edged component of a woman's mental 
state, it must be handled with extreme del- 
icacy. Defense counsel must be sensitive 
to the fact that rage is an issue that most 
strongly sparks the myths of women and 
violence. Additionally, prosecutors uni- 
formly seek retaliation instructions 83 in an 
attempt to defeat self-defense justifica- 
tions where rage has been an issue in the 


Our focus on self-defense reflects a dis- 
satisfaction with the use of traditional im- 
paired mental state defenses for women 
charged with homicides. These defenses 
tended to imply that such women were in- 
sane. We believe that analysis of the cir- 
cumstances which force women to re- 
spond to life-threatening situations usual- 
ly leads to a self-defense perspective. We 
recognize, however, that not all cases in- 
volving women responding to sexual or 
physical assault can or should be defended 
from the standpoint of self-defense. Ac- 
cordingly, we have set forth the prelimi- 
nary outlines of an impaired mental state 

The law has always recognized that re- 
sponsibility for criminal conduct cannot 
be fixed on persons whose mental capaci- 
ties were in some way impaired at the time 
of the incident. The range of defenses 
available for impaired mental capacity 
varies from state to state. They generally 
include insanity, which is a total defense to 
criminal conduct, and some form of par 
tial responsibility defense such as heat of 
passion 84 or diminished capacity. 85 The 
automatism, or unconscious defense, also 
limits criminal responsibility. This defense 
rests either- on the ground that the defend 
ant did not have the requisite mental state 
to commit a crime or that she did not com- 
mit a voluntary act. 86 There may also be 
other variations on the impaired mental 
state defense. 87 

Women generally have been viewed as 
more prone to hysteria and panic than 
men. Women who violated that stereotype 
by being strong and independent or violent 
were treated as hysterics. 88 It is our belief 
that many women who committed homi- 
cides and were considered disturbed by so- 
ciety, their lawyers, and even themselves, 
might now be viewed as having acted in 

In the past, defense attorneys relied al- 
most automatically on an impaired mental 
state defense for a woman who committed 
homicide. 89 Today, an impaired mental 
state defense should be considered only as 
a last resort, with full awareness of its so- 
cial implications. 90 In particular, the use 
of an insanity defense must be evaluated in 
light of the procedures which follow an ac- 
quittal by reason of insanity. In some 
jurisdictions, commitment to a mental 
hospital for treatment is mandatory after 
such an acquittal. 91 In all other nonfederal 
jurisdictions, commitment is possible but 
not mandatory. 92 

If it is necessary to use an impaired men- 
tal state defense, counsel can still accurate- 
ly and fully inform the jury of the condi- 
tions and circumstances which affected 
the woman's state of mind. For example, 
when a woman has suffered years of physi- 
cal or sexual abuse by her husband, has ex- 
perienced a prior rape or incident of child 
molestation, or has a particularly severe 
cultural or social reaction to sexual as- 
sault, it is important for her defense to ex- 
plain these background factors. This can 
be done through sociological, psychologi- 
cal or psychiatric testimony,^ the de- 
fendant's own testimony, and voir dire. 
The defense would suggest that the woman 
was driven to the breaking point by the cir- 
cumstances of her situation. 94 
In choosing an impaired mental state I 



Till ^^M 


defense, it is important to consider that 
juries not only generally mistrust psychi- 
atric defenses, but may, as with self- 
defense, apply a different standard to 
women. The jury may require a woman 
who asserts an impaired mental state 
defense to sound truly insane. A woman 
who sounds too angry or too calm may not 
fulfill the jurors' role expectations. The 
jury may then feel punitive toward her for 
not conforming to the stereotype. Prose- 
cutors have played on this bias by using 
tape recordings of a defendant's voice to 
the police or other persons after the inci- 
dent. These recordings are used to suggest 
that the woman sounded too calm to have 
been acting under an impaired mental 
state. The prosecution may also seek jury 
instructions stating that anger and frustra- 
tion are not insanity. This problem is par- 
ticularly severe where other myths are 
operating as well. Prosecutors may, for 
example, imply that women are masochists 
and are themselves responsible for the pre- 
cedent assaults. 95 

We believe that as more legal people be- 
gin to work in this area, they will develop a 
more thorough analysis of impaired men- 
tal defenses which includes the woman's 
perspective. This work is needed to repre- 
sent women in these circumstances more 
effectively through a wider range of 


After the defense strategy is chosen, myths 
and misconceptions which would prevent 
the jury from seeing the defendant's acts 
as reasonable must be identified. 96 If the 
myths surrounding physical or sexual as- 
sault are openly discussed and disputed in 
an evidentiary setting, homicide can be 

(continued on page 108) 

It is no wonder that, at least in New 
York State, 90 percent of the women in 
prison are poor, Black, Spanish-speaking. 

What did these women do? 

They had something to do with drugs, 
either as users or as small dealers; they 
were prostitutes; they shoplifted or were 
involved in some sort of robbery; they 
forged checks or perjured themselves; 
some killed a man in self-defense; in some 
sad cases, they killed their children. 

What mother would kill her children 
were she not maddened by the effort to 
keep going, keep providing, keep the chil- 
dren alive, keep them from trouble, keep 
herself from sinking under the weight of 
too much effort? What does it mean to 
kill in self-defense except to kill in order 
to avoid or avenge rape, to save oneself 
and one's children from being beaten to 
death, to call a halt to the violence done to 
us by taking matters into our hands and 
actively fighting back? Why would some- 
one poor steal, forge, shoplift, but for the 
fact that she is in need of essentials she 
can't otherwise get? Why do women be- 
come prostitutes? It's another job, dictat- 
ed by the ease with which men give money 
to women for the use of their bodies as 
opposed to the reluctance with which they 
give them money to be creative and pro- 
ductive as human beings. Why does any- 
one turn to drugs, except to shut reality 
out, the dread and horror of having to live 
powerless and victimized? How dare we 
put a moral clamp on the highs, the oblivi- 
ousness which can be purchased for a 
short while from dope? 

"Crimes" such as these arise out of the 
despair of poverty and female oppression, 
and were nailed on the offenders by soci- 
ety. These "criminals" are not criminals 
at all— they are the victims. The ultimate 
stage of being a victim is to end up in 

Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for 
Women may not look quite like a concen- 
tration camp, nor do the women look 
emaciated and starving. The institution 
takes good care to fatten them with poor- 
quality , carbohydrate-saturated food, 
which, it has been proved, keeps one le- 
thargic and passive. But look again, talk 
with the women, and the grim reality will 
start unveiling itself. 

From the time women enter the gates to 
the moment they leave, no one will let 
them forget who they are, where they are, 
what they are there for. They are "prob- 
lems," constantly to be watched out for, 
contained and tamed. 

The key words in prison are Security, Re- 
venge and Brainwashing. 

The women are treated with contempt, 
harassed and humiliated daily. Their pri- 
vacy becomes secondary to security, their 
labor belongs to the prison, their ties with 
their families are inhumanly disregarded, 
their need to relate to other human beings, 
to each other, is impeded at every moment 
by the authorities who dread that com- 
munication among the women will lead to 
resistance and revolt. Lesbians who keep 
to themselves, out of trouble, i.e., those 
not openly "out" and not involved in any 
political activity, are usually, though not 
always, left to themselves— just as on the 
outside. Conversely, strong relationships 
among the women are often labeled "les- 

(continued on page 109) 



understood as a response to a vicious phy- 
sical assault. The jury will not consider 
that the assault was an "enjoyable experi- 
ence." Defense strategy can then proceed 
as in any other criminal case. The strategy 
devised will determine the evidence pre- 
sented, tenor of the defense and the de- 
fendant's testimony,? 7 and the jury in- 

Analysis of the trial and retrial of Inez 
Garcia presents a valuable case study in 
the development of defense theory and its 
application to specific trial considerations. 
In the first trial, her defense was largely 
based on the theory of diminished capaci- 
ty; that is, as a result of the rape she was 
acting in an abnormal state of mind when 
she shot Miguel Jimenez, the man who 
earlier had been an accomplice in raping 
her. Inez Garcia's act was presented as 
that of an unreasonable woman. But Gar- 
cia herself perceived her act as reasonable. 
At retrial, her attorneys presented evi- 
dence to show this to be so. 

In preparation for retrial, Garcia's trial 
team analyzed which factors had led to her 
conviction. At the outset it appeared that 
she had an excellent self-defense case since 
the victim died with his own knife only 
inches away from his body. This indicated 
that he had intended to use it, or at least 
had it drawn. It was also apparent from 
juror interviews after the first trial that at 
least some of them perceived the rape as an 
act which Inez Garcia should have enjoyed. 
These factors, among others, led the trial 
team to conclude that the failure to pre- 
sent Garcia's act as reasonable was an er- 
ror in strategy at her first trial. 

Throughout the retrial, the strategy em- 
ployed was to identify and expose myths 
and misconceptions which would prevent 
the jury from viewing the evidence with an 
open mind. The defense presented one 
consistent message to the jury: Garcia's 
act of shooting her assailant was reason- 
able. Every problem was faced .and re- 
solved consistently with that strategy. The 
jury acquitted Garcia because they felt 
that anyone in her situation would have 
done the same. 98 

A. Voir dire 

Voir dire" examination of the jury should 
include the theory of the case, as well as 
some preliminary consideration of the 
makeup of the ideal jury. 100 An extensive 
voir dire examination is useful in laying 
out to the jury the defendant's theory of 

the case. It also begins to remove certain 
biases and prejudices from the jury. In the 
Garcia trial, voir dire examination helped 
to expose and eliminate the myths of rape 
which had been seen as detrimental to her 
defense. 101 

Voir dire may be used to identify and re- 
but other myths about women. For exam- 
ple, the myth that men use weapons as a 
matter of right whereas women should not 
use them at all is critical in a homicide case 
involving a woman. Women may be seen 
as hysterical in their decision to use a wea- 
pon. In voir dire examinations, these dif- 
ferent attitudes should be explored. If 
properly done, the bias reflected in these 
attitudes will be exposed to the jurors. 
When the evidence of the weapon is pre- 
sented in the trial, the previously examined 
juror will at least have been urged to take 
an unbiased view of the evidence presented. 

In selecting jurors for a woman's self- 
defense case, consideration must be given 
to the issues the defense will raise, how the 
defense and counsel will be perceived, and 
the issues raised by trial strategy. We do 
not posit one type of juror, male or fe- 
male, who can best accomplish the job of 
being fair-minded. 102 The desired compo- 
sition of the jury for each particular case 
depends upon the defendant, the witnesses 
and counsel's theories of jury selection. 
The Garcia jury consisted of ten men and 
two women, 103 not because this sex com- 
position was considered ideal, but because 
those particular jurors appeared to be the 
most fair and open-minded. Experience in 
the Garcia trial indicates that men as well 
as women can be sensitive to women's is- 
sues in a criminal trial if the issues are pre- 
sented correctly. 

B. Education of the judge 

Defense counsel in cases concerning hom- 
icide by an abused woman have found 
it useful to provide the court, either before 
or during trial, with memoranda, litera- 
ture and media presentations on the issues 
upon which the defense is based. 104 For 
example, the Garcia attorneys, prior to 
trial, provided the judge with a feminist 
study on rape. 105 Counsel felt that the 
judge, if educated, would understand the 
defense perspective and permit introduc- 
tion of evidence surrounding it. At the 
very least, counsel hoped that, if the judge 
himself believed any of the myths, he 
would be fairer if aware of his own preju- 
dice. Recent research provides a firm 
foundation for the defense approaches 
described in this article. This research 
should be used at every opportunity to 
educate the court. 

C. Presentation of expert testimony 

Expert testimony can be used effectively to 
neutralize stereotypical prejudices and 
ideas which interfere with a proper con- 
sideration of a woman's defense. In deter- 
mining whether or not to present such 
testimony, however, counsel should con- 
sider what myths 01 misconceptions sur- 
round the area. The effect an expert wit- 
ness will have on the jury 106 and the jury's 
ability to understand defendant's actions, 
given the circumstances, must also be 

If the subject is sufficiently beyond 
common experience so that expert opinion 
will assist the trier of fact, it is admissible 
at trial. 107 The judge, however, may need 
to be convinced that the subject is beyond 
common experience. In the Garcia trial 
rape was a subject which, in its scientific 
entirety, was beyond the common knowl- 
edge of both the jury and the judge. The 
brief demonstrated that scientific litera- 
ture contradicted commonly held views of 
rape and that the proposed expert testi- 
mony would be crucial to an understand- 
ing of Garcia's state of mind at the time 
she committed the homicide. 108 Similar 
motions for expert testimony should be 
made in cases where child molestation or 
wife assault is involved. 

In the Garcia trial, two experts testified 
for the defense about the effect of rape on 
a rape victim. The testimony of one in- 
cluded statistics on the reactions of rape 
victims and whether rape victims called the 
police following a sexual assault. 109 The 
second expert testified to defendant Gar- 
cia's racial and cultural background as a 
Latina. The specific effect of a rape on the 
emotional makeup of a woman of her 
background was stressed. 110 This testi- 
mony proved to be very helpful in explain- 
ing Garcia's act as that of a reasonable 
woman in her circumstances. 

D. Jury instructions 

Jury instructions must reflect and be con- 
sistent with the theory of the case. They 
must affirmatively try to solve any special 
problems. In a case involving a woman on 
trial for murder, jury instructions are par- 
ticularly crucial. Many of the concepts de- 
veloped in this article arose out of jury in- 
struction challenges. The attorney must be 
extremely sensitive to the subtleties and 
nuances of the tone of the instruction, the 
use of masculine gender and the incorpo- 
ration of male-defined standards. Jury in- 
structions embody, direct and reflect to 
the jury the male-defined standard of self- 


defense in its purest form. Such instruc- 
tions divert the jury from the woman's 
perspective, even when this perspective 
has been incorporated into the trial. 

E. Resources 

The theoretical basis of the approach set 
forth in this article has its foundation in 
women's movement resources. The origi- 
nal work in the area of rape was done 
within the women's movement. 111 It in- 
cluded attempts by women to make legis- 
lative changes in the law, 112 to set up rape 
crisis and intervention centers, 113 to focus 
media exposure on the problem of rape 
and to distribute substantial literature on 
the subject. Similar work is now being 
done in the areas of wife assault and child 
molestation. 114 

Many communities now have rape crisis 
centers, shelters for battered women, 
women's centers, women's switchboards 
and women's bookstores. In addition, 
women's projects frequently can be found 
within sociology, psychology, history, 
women's studies and criminology depart- 
ments of major universities. Together 
these provide fruitful resources and should 
be sought out by the lawyer representing a 
woman in these circumstances. Studies 
and expert witnesses to testify about them 
are also available from these sources. 115 


The legal analysis set forth in this article 
has proved successful because of the so- 
cial, political and scientific foundation 
upon which it is based. The courts have 
begun to accept this analysis, and it pro- 
vides a framework in which lawyers faced 
with similar cases may counsel a woman 

The subtleties of sex discrimination in 
criminal law, however, are only beginning 
to be explored. Increasing numbers of 
women find themselves facing criminal 
charges without lawyers who understand 
their circumstances, their states of mind, 
or who can translate their perspective into 
the courtroom setting. Much creative 
work remains to be done in this area. 
Courts can and will accept the woman's 
point of view, if adequately and sensitively 
presented. The contours of criminal law 
must be expanded to include the woman's 

— Elizabeth M. Schneider 
— Susan B. Jordan 

with the assistance of 
Christina C. Arguedas 

(continued on page 1 10) 

bian" and destroyed, because any strong 
relationship is to be feared and avoided. 
To be in prison is to be considered not 
human, to have none of the usual physical 
and emotional needs people have on the 

Without family, with friendships re- 
quiring a hassle to make them last, all 
that's left is eating the horrible food pro- 
vided, sleeping under constant disorient- 
ing surveillance, doing the daily chores for 
as low as 30C to $ 1 .50 a day and attending 
the poor-quality, limited programs the in- 
stitution may offer. Most important of 
all, the women must keep up with the 

From what we know at Bedford and 
from accounts around the country, worn- 
men, as soon as they arrive at the prison, 
are confronted with a long list of rules and 
regulations that make no sense and reduce 
life inside to a series of monotonous exer- 
cises in boredom and drudgery. A woman 
once said to us: 

In here you have to forget how to function 
on a normal day-to-day basis; you are ex- 
pected to get up, regardless of whether you 
have anything to do or not, to get counted, 
to eat, to do your prescribed chores, and 
then go back to bed. All sense of responsi- 
bility is removed from you, all is done for 
you, even the things you don't want done. 
You are regressing back to infancy. 

Indeed, the guards, the warden, everyone 
considers the women as children who 
don't know anything, to be rewarded or 
punished according to whether they follow 
the rules. And since the rules are so arbi- 

Here's where the sun don't shine 
Living on Bedford grounds, 
Where women faces are not 
Stamped with happy smiles, 
But rather with bitter frowns. 

Here's where the sun don't shine 
In a two by four with a 
Steel door. 

Cold dreary walls mounted with 
Toothpaste where pictures hung 
Representing Freedom, Love 
And Happier Times. 

Here's where the sun don't shine 
Sitting in the board room 
Facing more time . . . Just . . . 
Because society says 

Here's where the sun don't shine 
Laying in segregation 
Without any recrimination . . 
. . . or . . . 
Standing on a line, 

Whether it be chow, or 
Just medication time, having 
The "sadistic pigs" try and 
Mess with your mind. 

And years passing by 

.... and each day seeming the 

Same; wondering really 

Who's to BLAME!! 

— Malikah-B.H.C.F. 

trary and change from day to day, a wom- 
an is at a loss to know what is expected 
from her; she can break the rules, and not 
even be aware that she's doing so. In fact, 
it is strongly suspected that this is exactly 
the raison d'etre of these rules: to con- 
fuse, harass and drive crazy, to disorient. 
Disorientation is the first stage of brain- 
washing, as it leaves you shaky and unsure 
of what you want and who you are. You 
become malleable material for the author- 
ities to shape as they please. 

Disorientation is also achieved and pro- 
moted by artificially inducing boredom. In 
the absence of anything worthwhile to fill 
in one's day with, each and every moment 
seems an eternity, and the prospect of ever 
reaching the time to get out becomes 
blurred in the anonymity of time. One's 
will to resist, the desire to live, goes out 
little by little, like the sand in a huge hour 

(continued on page III) 


Inez Garcia was acquitted in 1977, after being 
convicted at a first trial and winning a retrial on 
appeal, People v. Garcia, Cr. No. 4259 
(Superior Court, Monterey County, Cal., 
1977); Joan Little was acquitted in 1975, State 
v. Little, 74 Cr. No. 4176 (Superior Court, 
Beaufort County, N.C., 1975). 
Although the term "wife assault" is used 
throughout this article, the problem is equally 
applicable to unmarried women living with vio- 
lent men. 

The Washington Supreme Court reversed 
Yvonne Wanrow's felony-murder conviction 
from her first trial, State v. Wanrow, 88 Wash. 
2d 221 , 559 P. 2d 548 (1977) and she is awaiting 
retrial, State v. Wanrow, No. 20876 (Superior 
Court, Spokane County). Other cases of which 
the authors are aware include the following: 
Marlene Roan Eagle (South Dakota, battered 
wife, acquitted of murder on grounds of self- 
defense); Miriam Grieg (Montana, battered 
wife, acquitted of murder on grounds of self- 
defense); Evelyn Ware (California, battered 
wife, acquitted of murder on grounds of self- 
defense); Janice Hornbuckle (Washington, 
battered wife, acquitted of murder on grounds 
of self-defense); Janet Hartwell (Michigan, bat- 
tered and sexually abused wife, acquitted of 
murder on grounds of self-defense); Eva Mae 
Heygood (Wisconsin, battered wife, acquitted 
of murder on grounds of self-defense); Sharon 
McNearney (Michigan, battered wife, acquitted 
of murder on grounds of self-defense); Gloria 
Maldonado (Illinois, abuse of child by hus- 
band, state's attorney ruled insufficient 
evidence to warrant prosecution); Francine 
Hughes (Michigan, battered wife, acquitted of 
murder by reason of insanity); Betty Jean Car- 
ter (Wisconsin, battered wife, murder charge 
reduced to self-defense manslaughter, granted 
probation with no incarceration); Lea Murphy 
(Washington, abuse of child by husband, con- 
victed but given five-year deferred sentence); 
Shirley Martin (Minnesota, battered wife, con- 
victed of manslaughter); Christina Pratt (New 
York, convicted of manslaughter for killing 
rapist, served several years, was granted execu- 
tive clemency); Gloria Timmons (Washington, 
battered and sexually abused wife, convicted of 
manslaughter, served several years, recently 
paroled on 20-year sentence); Jennifer Patri 
(Wisconsin, battered and sexually abused wife, 
convicted); Hazel Kontos (Alabama, battered 
wife, convicted and sentenced to life imprison- 
ment); Carolyn McKendrick (Pennsylvania, 
battered woman, convicted of murder for 
shooting her boyfriend, a professional boxer); 
Mary McQuire (Oregon, battered wife, convic- 
ted of soliciting someone to kill her husband, 
sentenced to five years); Dessie X. Woods 
(Georgia, convicted of shooting attempted ra- 
pist); Beverly Ibn-Thomas (Washington, D.C., 
battered wife, convicted of murder); Mary 
Melerine (Louisiana, battered wife, awaiting 
trial); Evelyn Graham (Florida, battered wife, 
awaiting trial); Maxine Waltman (Oklahoma, 
battered wife, awaiting trial). More information 
on these cases may be found by contacting the 
National Communication Network, 584 Grand 
Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 55102. See also 
"Wives Accused in Slayings Turning to Self- 
Defense Pleas," Washington Post, Dec. 4, 
1977, p. Al. 

Indeed it has been suggested that acquittals in 
these cases would result in an "open season on 
men." Greenberg, "Thirteen Ways to Leave 
Your Lover," New Times, Feb. 6, 1978, p. 6. 
See also "A Killing Excuse," Time, Nov. 28, 
1977, p. 108; "The Right to Kill," Newsweek, 
Sept. 1, 1975, p. 69; "Wives Accused of 
Slayings Turning to Self-Defense Pleas," Wash- 

ington Post, Dec. 4, 1977, p. Al; "Wives Who 
Batter Back," Newsweek, Jan. 30, 1978, p. 54. 

5. Both Inez Garcia and Yvonne Wanrow were 
convicted at their first trials, when the jury ap- 
parently rejected pleas of impaired mental state. 
Upon retrial, Inez Garcia asserted a self-defense 
explanation of her actions and she was acquit- 
ted. See note 1 supra. Yvonne Wanrow won a 
reversal of her conviction on two grounds. See 
State v. Wanrow, 88 Wash. 2d 221, 559 P. 2d 
548 (1977). See Subsection IIIC infra. 

6. Impaired mental state defenses include insanity, 
temporary insanity, diminished capacity and 
other defenses asserting a less than normal emo- 
tional and mental makeup. See text accom- 
panying notes 84-94. 

7. The dearth of material in the area of women 
and crime has been noted by many current 
commentators. See, e.g., R. Simon, Women 
and Crime (1975) p. 1 [hereinafter cited as 

3. For a study of women who committed homi- 
cides in another country, see M. Hartman, 
Victorian Murderesses (1977). 

9. See, e.g.,, Simon, supra note 7; C. McCormick, 
"Battered Women" (Cook County Department 
of Corrections, Chicago, Illinois, 1977) [herein- 
after cited as McCormick]. 

10. Rasche, "The Female Offender as an Object of 
Criminological Research," in The Female 
Offender (1974) p. 17 (citing C. Lombroso & 
W. Ferrero, The Female Offender [1958 ed.]). 

11. Id. p. 24 (citing O. Pollak, The Criminality of 
Wpmen [1950]). See also Klein, "The Etiology 
of Female Crime: A Review of the Literature," 
Issues in Criminology, vol. 8, No. 2, 1973, p. 

12. F. Adler, Sisters in Crime (1975) p. 30. See 
"Critics Assail Linking Feminism with Women 
in Crime," New York Times, Mar. 14, 1976, p. 

13. Simon, supra note 7, p. 40. Accord Price, "The 
Forgotten Female Offender," Crime and 
Delinquency, Apr. 1977, p. 103. But see also 
"Critics Assail Linking Feminism with Women 
in Crime," New York Times, Mar. 14, 1976, p. 
48 (female homicide rate has been stable at 10% 
for -years). 

14. Simon, supra note 7, p. 57. Accord Rottman & 
Simon, "Women in the Courts: Present Trends 
and Future Prospects," 23 Chilly's L.J. 24, 25 

15. F. Adler, Sisters in Crime (1975) p. 179 (citing 
Temin, "Discriminatory Sentencing of Women 
Offenders: The Argument for ERA in a 
Nutshell," 11 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 355 [1973]). 
See also L. Kanowitz, Women and the Law 
(1969). Accord Price, "The Forgotten Female 
Offender," Crime and Delinquency, Apr. 1977, 
p. 110. 

16. 11 Crimes of Violence, Staff Report to the Na- 
tional Commission on the Causes & Prevention 
of Violence 209-10 (1969) [hereinafter cited as 
Crimes of Violence]. 

17. 13 Crimes of Violence, supra note 16, p. 903. 

18. See 11 Crimes of Violence, supra note 16, pp. 

19. McCormick, supra note 9. For a period of 18 
months the author interviewed every woman ar- 
rested in Cook County for murder, involuntary 
manslaughter or manslaughter, eliciting infor- 
mation regarding the person killed, the weapon 
used, the length of marriage or relationship, 
reasons for beatings, preventative measures 
utilized prior to the murder and the reasons for 
remaining in the home. 

20. 1 1 Crimes of Violence, supra note 16, p. 360. 

21. This problem of lack of police protection also 
extends to child molestation. See De Francis, 
"Protecting the Child Victim of Sex Crimes 
Committed by Adults," 35 Fed. Probation 15, 
16 (1971); Rush, "The Sexual Abuse of Chil- 
dren," in Rape: The First Sourcebook for 
Women (N. Connell & C. Wilson, eds., 1974). 

22. See, e.g., S. Brownmiller, Against Our Will 

(1975); Queens Bench Foundation, Rape: Pre- 
vention and Resistance (1976); Rape: The First 
Sourcebook for Women, (N. Connell & C. 
Wilson, eds., 1974); St. Louis Feminist Re- 
search project, 77i<? Rape Bibliography: A Col- 
lection of Abstracts (1976); Berger, "Man's 
Trial, Women's Tribulations: Rape Cases in th 
Courtroom," 77 Col. L. Rev. 1 (1977); Bohmer 
& Blumberg, "Twice Traumatized: The Rape 
Victim and the Court," 58 Jud. 390 (1975) 
[hereinafter cited as Bohmer & Blumberg] 
Bohmer, "Judicial Attitudes Toward Rape Vic- 
tims," 57 Jud. 303 (1974) [hereinafter cited as 
Bohmer]; Eisenberg, "Abolishing Cautionary 
Instructions in Sex Offense Cases: People v. 
Rincon-Pineda," 12 Crim. L. Bull. 58 (1976) 
(hereinafter cited as Eisenberg]; Hibey, "The 
Trial of a Rape Case: An Advocate's Analysis 
of Corroboration, Consent and Character," 11 
Am. Crim. L. Rev. 309(1973) [hereinafter cited 
as Hibey]; Le Grand, "Rape and Rape Laws: 
Sexism in Society and the Law," 61 Cal. L. 
Rev. 919 (1973) [hereinafter cited as Le Grand]; 
Mathiasen, "The Rape Victim: A Victim of So- 
ciety and the Law," 11 Will. L. J.36 (1974); 
Note, "if She Consented Once, She Consented 
Again — A Legal Fallacy in Forcible Rape 
Cases," 10 Val. U.L. Rev. 127 (1975). 
23. "Rape is widely recognized as among the most 
serious of violent crimes ... [in which] often 
the victim suffers serious physical injury." Fur- 
man v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 458-59 (1976) 
(Powell, J., dissenting). See also People v. 
Ceballos, 12 Cal. 3d 479, 526 P. 2d 241, 116 
Cal. Rptr. 233 (1974). 
See generally note 22 supra. 
See, e.g., U.S. Dept. of Justice Federal Bureau 
of Investigation, Crime in the United States, 
1976, pp. 15-17. 
See id., Table 54 p. 217. 
In 1976, police charged 2,418 persons with 
forcible rape; 33 were found guilty, id. In addi- 
tion, these figures do not reflect the fact that 
rape has been grossly underreported, making 
the disparity between occurrence of the crime 
and conviction rate even Jarger. See id. p. 16.. 
See generally S. Brownmiller, Against Our Will 
(1975); Bohmer & Blumberg, supra note 22; 
LeGrand, supra note 22. 

Frequently the police will more readily disbe- 
lieve a rape victim's report of a crime than a 
report from a victim of some other kind of 
assault. See, e.g., "Police Discretion and the 
Judgment That a Crime has Been Commiled — 
Rape in Philadelphia," 117 U. Pa. L. Rev. Til 

30. In some jurisdictions, the rules of evidence per- 
mit the victim to be questioned regarding her 
prior sexual conduct and the crime itself 
requires corroborative evidence. See, e.g., 
Bohmer & Blumberg, supra note 22; Eisenberg, 
supra note 22; "The Trial of a Rape Case: An 
Advocate's Analysis of Corroboration on Con- 
sent and Character," 11 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 309 
(1973); Hibey, supra note 22, LeGrand, supra 
note 22; Note, "If She Consented Once, She 
Consented Again — A Legal Fallacy in Forcible 
Rape Cases," 10 Val. U. L. Rev. 127 (1975). 

31. It has been customary to give juries "caution- 
ary" instructions in rape cases warning them to 
be skeptical of the victim's testimony since the 
crime of rape is "easily alleged and difficult to 
prove." See, e.g., Eisenberg, supra note 22. 

32. See H. Kalven & H. Zeisel, The American. Jury 
(1966); J. MacDonald, Psychiatry and the 
Criminal (1969) p. 235. 

33. See Bohmer, supra note 22, p. 398; Bohmer & 
Blumberg, supra note 22, p. 304. 

34. People v. Rincon-Pineda, 14 Cal. 3d 864, 880, 
538 P. 2d 247, 258, 123 Cal. Rptr. 119, 130 

35. See generally D. Martin, Battered Wives (1976) 
[hereinafter cited as Martin]; Eisenberg & 
Micklow, "The Assaulted Wife: 'Catch-22' Re- 
visited," 3 Women's Rts. L. Rep. 138 (1977); 
R. Langley & R. Levy Wife Beating: The Silent • 







Crisis (1977) [hereinafter cited as Langley & 

36. Martin, supra note 35. See also Bruno v. Codd, 
90 Misc. 2d 1047, 396 N.Y.S. 2d 974 (Sup. Ct. 
1977) and Scott v. Hart, 76 Civ. 2395 (N.D. 
Cal. 1976). Plaintiffs in Bruno are 12 married 
women beaten by their husbands and refused 
assistance by the Family Court or by the police 
or by both. The women are suing the New York 
City Police Department and the clerks and Pro- 
bation Department employees of Family Court 
to enforce the defendants' legal obligations to 
protect battered wives; trial is pending 
following the court's denial of class action certi- 
fication. Scott presents a similar situation. 
Pleadings and briefs for both lawsuits are 
available from the National Clearinghouse for 
Legal Services, 500 North Michigan Avenue, 
Suite 2220, Chicago, Illinois 60611. 

37. Langley & Levy, supra note 35. For statistics on 
the severity and prevalence of wife battery, see 
Martin, Supra note 35, pp. 11-14. 

38. Records from Boston City Hospital show that 
70% of the assault victims it receives are women 
who have been attacked by their husbands. 
Martin, supra note 35, p. 12. Moreover, in Cal- 
ifornia, in 1971, one-third of all female homi- 
cide victims were murdered by their husbands. 
Id. at 14. 

39. In one city it has been shown that in 85% of the 
cases, when a homicide occurred in the course 
of domestic violence, the police had been sum- 
moned at least once before the killing occurred, 
and in 50% of the cases the police were called 
five or more times before the actual murder. 
Domestic Violence and the Police: Studies in 
Detroit and Kansas City (1977). 

40. See generally G. Lcrner, Black Women in 
White America (1972); U.S. Comm'n. on Civil 
Rights, Hearings Held in Chicago, Illinois 
(1974); Wright, "Poverty, Minorities, and 
Respect for Law," 1970 Duke L.J. 425 (1970). 

41. W. LaFave & A. Scott, Handbook on Criminal 
Law (1972), p. 528 [hereinafter cited as LaFave 
& Scott]. 

42. See, e.g., Conn. Sen. Stat. Ann. 88 53a-54 to 56 
(West 1958); Ga. Code 88 26-1101 to 1103 
(1972); Idaho Code "" 18-4003, -40006 (1947); 
///. Ann. Stat. ch. 38 ss 9-1 to 3 (Smith-Hurd 
1972); Ind. Code. Ann. 8 * 35-13-4-1 to 2 (Burns 
1975); Iowa Code. Ann. 88 690.1 to .3, 110 
(West 1950); N.M. Stat. Ann. 88 40A-2-1 to 2-3 
(1953); N.C. Gen. Sta. 88 14-17 to 18 (1969); 
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. 88 2903.02 to .04 (Page 
1975); Or. Rev. Stat. 88 163.005 to .125 (1977); 
Wash. Rev. Code 88 9A.32.010 to .070 (1977). 

43. LaFave & Scott, supra note 41, p. 572. 

44. Although the defendant bears the burden of 
producing evidence as to defenses of self- 
defense and insanity, courts have been divided 
as to which side bears the burden of persuasion 
once these defenses are put in evidence. LaFave 
& Scott, supra note 41, pp. 47-48. Mullaney v. 
Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684 (1975), however, arguably 
requires the prosecution to bear the persuasion 
burden in both situations, and has generally 
thrown the issue of burden of proof into con- 
fusion. See, e.g., Frazier v. Weatherholtz, 411 
F. Supp. 349 (W.D. Va. 1976); Wright v. State 
29 Md. App.,57, 349 A. 2d 391 (1975). 

45. Me The "Unwritten Law" as a Defense, ch. 303, 
§ 2-4, 1963 N.M. Laws (repealed 1973); Adultery 
as Justification, arts. 1102, 1103, Tex. Pen. 1916 
(Vernon) (repealed 1973). 

46. The concept that a wife "belongs to" her 
husband is illustrated by the fact that a man 
cannot commit rape by having sexual intercourse 
with his wife even if he does so by force and 
against her will. R. Perkins, Criminal Law (2d ed. 
1969) p. 156 [hereinafter cited as Perkins]. 

47. See Commonwealth v. Lawrence, 428 Pa. 188, 
236 A. 2d 768, (1968); People v. .Collin, 189 C. 
App. 2d 575, 11 Cal. Rptr. 504 (1961); State v. 
Robinson, 328 S.W. 2d 667 (Mo. 1959). 

48. Juror's statement following the Garcia trial. The 

(continued on page 112) 



glass. This truly is Dante's Hell, a bleak- 
ness more frightening than many more 
overt forms of violence. Disorientation is 
complete when one completely loses one's 
sense of time as well as one's sense of 

What the authorities desire is to mold 
women into weak, obedient, "feminine" 
slaves who will be content to serve forever, 
to be ill-treated and victimized, without 
complaints. To that end, they offer the 
women little more than high school cour- 
ses and typically "female" vocational 
training, i.e., secretarial, beautician cour- 
ses, etc. Often they have the audacity to 
call the chores the women must daily per- 
form (in order to maintain the prison 
budget at a minimum) vocational train- 
ing—as if the women didn't already know 
only too well how to scrub floors, wash 
dishes, do the laundry, sew clothes. 
Meanwhile, men in prison can at least do 
electrical wiring, plumbing, carpentry— 
higher-paying, skilled jobs not available as 
a rule to women in prison. 

If you refuse to do your chores, you are 
labeled a troublemaker and punished. 
Then a more overt cycle of violence begins 
to operate against you. First comes "coun- 
seling" or "group therapy"— how to lead 
you back to the path of virtuous hard 
labor. Then come the drugs. Drugging is 
such a prevalent feature on prison cam- 
puses that one wonders why the prison es- 
tablishment isn't given the honorary title 
of "Big-Time Pusher." A lot of the wom- 
en seek the drugs themselves, as a relief 
from the frustration of prison life. But 
there are also those who are forcibly' 
drugged because they are disciplinary 
problems. The drug industry often experi- 
ments with their newest, most harmful 
drugs on women in prison. We have 
known women who were forcibly injected 
with Prolixin, a mind-altering drug with 
long-lasting effects, because they were 
termed "dangerous." 

Then there is sterilization. The prison, 
hand in hand with the medical profession, 
has found the ultimate means of rendering 
women, especially poor Third World 
women, harmless in the long term: they 
stop them from being able to reproduce 
themselves. This is racism in the raw, 
compounded on sexism, and one of the 
types of physical violence specific to 
■women in prison. It is tied in closely with 
the emotional violence done to a woman 
when her children have been snatched 

N.Y. State prison guard Charles Holland 
addressing a KKK rally held on his land. 

away from her. There is nothing like the 
despair of a mother separated from her 
offspring. And only a woman can exper- 
ience the full savagery of such a torture. 
Often, in the visiting room, seeing her 
weep with joy when she re-finds her child, 
and seeing her weep with anguish when 
it's time to separate again, I grow violent- 
ly angry inside and demand what right 
these men in the Corrections Department 
have to do this to a woman. Of course, 
this type of cruelty is also part and parcel 
of the same racist mentality that sterilizes 
Third World women: breaking up the 
family has always been a white 
supremacist policy against people of 
color, a way of furthering genocidal 
policies, the destruction oT one of the few 
sources of strength and solace Third 
World people may have in this racist 

The other major type of physical vio- 
lence done to women behind bars is the 
presence of male guards, and the threat of 
brute male physical power always looming 
over their heads. Both men and women 
prisoners experience the racism of the 
Correction Department in the form of 
guards who belong to the Ku Klux Klan— 
a horrifying and very little known 'fact of 
prison oppression. Women have to put up 
with KKK guards, but, actually, any male 
guard is oppressive in a woman's prison. 
Male guards, often of all colors, "goon 
squads," the "superior male muscle," are 
called in to quell riots and fights, and 
under that excuse, they beat the women 
up and sexually abuse them, though this is 

(continued on page 113) 


Garcia defense [earn informally gathered 
information from the jurors following the trial. 
All subsequent citations to jurors' statements are 
from these interviews. 

49. See, e.g., Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7 (1975) 
(different age of majority for males and females 
under Utah child support statute violates equal 
protection); Taylor v. Louisiana, 419 U.S. 522 
(systematic exclusion of women from jury panels 
violates defendant's right to representative jury); 
Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677 (1973) 
(different dependency requirements for male and 
female spouses of members of the armed services 
violate equal protection). 

50. For example, the trial judge in Inez Garcia's first 
trial repeatedly stated in front of the jury that 
"rape has nothing to do with this homicide 

51. See, e.g., Wash. Rev. Code. Ann. § 9.48.170 
(1977). This is a fairly typical articulation of the 

52. See, e.g.. State v. Lewis, 6 Wash. App. 38, 491 
P. 2d 1062 (1971). 

53. For states that adopt this standard, See, e.g., 
Conn. Gen. Slat. Ann. § 53a- 19(a) (West 1958); 
Ga. Code Ann. § 26-902(a) (Supp. 1976); Ind. 
Code. Ann. § 35-41"3°2(a) (Burns Supp. 1977); 
La. Rev. Stal. Ann. § 14.20(1) (West 1974) Wash. 
Rev. Code. Ann. § 9A. 16.050(1) (1977). The 
traditional legal characterization of this standard 
as either subjective or objective is confusing. In 
fact, the standard generally applied is an amal- 
gam of subjective and objective tests. It includes 
the individual's perception of both apprehension 
and imminent danger from the individual's own 
perspective, but involves an objective view by the 
jury of these circumstances. Thus the law will 
consider how the individual perceived her male 
assailant as he came at her, but will apply an ob- 
jective judgment to the circumstances. Although 
including the woman's perspective is obviously 
easier where the more subjective standard is 
applied, the woman's perspective should be 
incorporated even where the standard is the "rea- 
sonable person," since that too must include 
women. See text accompanying notes 52-57 infra. 

54. Brown v. United States, 256. U.S. 335, 343 
t tyzi). 

55. For an excellent analysis of the law of self 
defense, see J. Curtin & D. Kates, "Rape: Legal 
and Practical Aspects of Armed Self Defense" 
(1977) (unpublished paper, St. Louis University 
Law School). 

56. There are a number of other aspects ot self- 
defense law pertinent to a defense of self-defense, 
such as inapplicability of self-defense to an 
aggressor, defense of others and defense of a 
dwelling, which are not discussed in this article. 

57. The crimes viewed by the law as involving deadly 
force may reflect its underlying biases. Thus, it is 
not established whether a rape, classified as a 
violent crime, but not accompanied by deadly 
force, could be defended against with deadly 
force. Similarly, although it has been legally es- 
tablished that deadly force may be used to repel a 
dangerous felony, at least one court has failed to 
place the felony of wife assault in that category. 
See People v. Jones, 191 Cal. App. 2d 478, 482, 
12 Cal. Rptr. 777 (1961). 

58. Although this section focuses on the "person's 
own perspective" standard of self-defense, the 
"reasonable person" standard can be made to 
include the woman's own perspective in the same 
manner as described herein. 

59. 88 Wash. 2d 221, 559 P. 2d 548 (1977). 

60. The instruction read as follows: "To justify kill- 
ing in self-defense, there need be no actual or real 
danger to the life or person of the party killing, 
but there must be, or reasonably appear to be at 
or immediately before the killing, some overt act, 
or some circumstances which would reasonably 
indicate to the party killing that the person slain 


is, at the time, endeavoring to kill him or inflict 
upon him great bodily harm. However, when 
there is no reasonable ground for the person at- 
tacked to believe that his person is in imminent 
danger of death or great bodily harm, and it ap- 
pears to him that only an ordinary battery is all 
that is intended, and all that he has reasonable 
grounds to fear from his assailant, he has a right 
to stand his ground and repel such threatened as- 
sault, yet he has no right to repel a threatened 
assault with naked hands, by the use of a deadly 
weapon in a deadly manner,, unless he believes, 
and has reasonable grounds to believe, that he is 
in imminent danger of death or great bodily 

61. See Supplemental Brief for Respondent; Reply to 
Petition for Rehearing for Respondent, Slate v. 
Wanrow, 88 Wash. 2d 221, 559, P. 2d 548 (1977). 
These briefs are available from the Center for 
Constitutional Rights, 853 Broadway, New York, 
New York 10003. 

62. State v. Dunning, 8 Wash. App. 340, 342, 506 P. 
2d 321, 322-23 (1973). 

63. State v. Wanrow, supra note 59, 559 P. 2d at 559. 
The decision on the self-defense instruction in 
Wanrow was reached by a divided court. Four of 
the eight justices ruling on the case voted to 
reverse the conviction on this ground. The con- 
viction was reversed by a vote of five to three on 
the ground of improper admission of a tape 
recording of Wanrow's telephone conversation 
with the Spokane police. Self-defense instructions 
based on this opinion were also used in the suc- 
cessful trials of Inez Garcia, see note 1 supra, and 
Janice Hornbuckle, see note 3 supra. 

64. Id. at 59, 559 P. 2d at 559 (citations omitted). 

65. Id. 

66. Stanton v. Stanton, 421 U.S. 7, 15 (1977). 

67. See generally, B. Babcock, A. Freedman, E. 
Norton & S. Ross, Sex Discrimination and the 
Law: Causes and Remedies (1975) at 990-1036. 

68. Bardwick, "Ambivalence: The Socialization o 
Women," in Readings on the Psychology oj 
Women (J. Bardwick, ed., 1972) at 52-58. 

69. Consentino & Heilbrun, "Anxiety Correlates of 
Sex-Role Identity in College Students," in id., 

70. The Washington Supreme Court stated in State v. 
Wanrow: "[CJare must be taken to assure that 
our self-defense instructions afford women the 
right to have their conduct judged in the light of 
the individual physical handicaps which are the 
product of sex discrimination." 88 Wash. 2d 221, 
559 P. 2d 548, 559 (1977). 

71. Perkins, supra note 46, at 997. 

72. See text surrounding note 65 supra. 

73. 88 Wash. 2d 221, 559 P. 2d 548, 555 (1977). 

74. Id. at 559 P. 2d at 557. 

75. See, e.g., State v. Dunning, 8 Wash. App. 340, 
342, 506 P. 2d 321, 322-23 (1973). 

76. This view' has already been recognized by some 
courts. The New Jersey Supreme Court has held 
that provocation can include a "course of ill 
treatment" not limited to events immediately 
preceding the homicidal act. State v. Guido, 40 
N.J. 191, 211, 191 A. 2d 45, 56(1963). The court 
staled that "prolonged oppression" and an accu- 
mulation of events can become a "detonating 
force, no different from that of a single blow of 
injury." See also English v. People, 178 Colo 
325, 497 P. 2d 691 (1972), Ferrin v. People, 164 
Colo. 130, 433 P. 2d 108 (1967). 

77. C. McCormick, Handbook on Law of Evidence § 
160 (1954). Accord Fed. R. Evid. 404 (a) (2). The 
decedent's reputation for violence, however, need 
not have been personally known to the 

78. People v. Torres, 94 Cal. App. 2d 146, 210 P. 2d 
324 (1949). 

79. Indeed, it is interesting to note that women who 
commit violent acts are either seen as insane or 
acting out of anger, although the prevailing 
image of a man protecting himself is that he is 

80. For example, who can imagine not saying, "I'd 
like to kill the guy who raped me." In fact, when 
asked in voir dire in both Garcia trials, "What 
would you do to the man who you learned raped 
your wife/daughter?" male jurors uniformly re- 
sponded, "I would like to kill the guy." 

81. There are two situations in which an aggressor 
may justifiably defend herself. (1) An aggressor 
who begins an encounter using no weapon or a 
nondeadly weapon and who is met with deadly 
force, may then justifiably defend herself against 
the then deadly attack. This is so because the ag-° 
gressor's victim, by using deadly force against 
nondeadly aggression, uses unlawful force. (2) 
Also, an aggressor who in good faith effectively 
withdraws from any further encounter with her 
victim (and to make effective withdrawal she 
must notify the victim, or at least take reasonable 
steps to notify him/her) is restored to her right of 
self-defense. LaFave & Scott, supra note 41, at 
394-95. See also Perkins, supra note 46, at 1015. 

In some states, courts have held that where 
possible a person must retreat rather than use 
deadly force if attacked outside her home or busi- 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Clhulhu R'lych wgali' nagl f'htag 


ncss. However, in most states, a person has no 
duty to retreat in the face of a deadly attack. 
Even in those jurisdictions which require retreat, 
the defender need not retreat unless she knows 
she can do so in complete safely; and she need 
not retreat from her home or place of business, 
or place where she is rightfully. See, e.g., King v. 
State, 233 A. 198, 171 So. 254 (1936); State v. 
Abbott, 36 N.J. 63, 174 A. 2d 881 (1961). More- 
over, the doctrine of deadly force does not 
encompass any right to use deadly force for the 
purpose of revenge. After an attacker has been 
disarmed or if he has retreated, there is no 
present and immediate danger which further 
justifies killing him. 

82. If it were, of course, and the woman was not 
afraid, then a defense of self-defense might be 
difficult and strong consideration of an impaired 
mental state defense should be given. 

83. A typical retaliation instruction for a jury, 
appeared in People v. Triolo, 332 111. 410, 163 
N.E. 784 (1928): "If you believe from the evi- 
dence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he had 
no reasonable cause to apprehend the approach 
of immediate injuries to himself, and did 
so . . . from a motive of revenge or retaliation, 
then the defendant can not avail himself of the 
law of self-defense and you can not acquit on 
that ground." Id. at 414, 163 N.E. at 785. 

84. Although heat of passion is also discussed in the 
section on self-defense, it is conceptually akin to 
an impaired mental state defense in that it sug- 
gests that the mental state of the defendant was 
less than normal. Perkins, supra note 46, at 66, 

85. This can reduce first- or second-degree murder to 
manslaughter if the provocation was "reason- 
able." LaFave & Scott, supra note 41, at 573. 
Diminished capacity is a potential complete 
defense in some states, in other states it is entirely 
precluded as a defense. See "Recent Develop- 
ments: Diminished Capacity— Recent Decisions 
and an Analytical Approach," 30 Vand. L. Rev. 
213, 215, 222(1977). 

86. LaFave & Scott, supra note 41, at 337. 

87. For example, there is also the xyy chromosome 
defense for men which bases lack of criminal re- 
sponsibility on genetic factors; or voluntary 
intoxication which is usually a partial defense to 
specific intent crimes. Id. at 332-37, 341-51. 

. Indeed, the literature suggests that women who 
are violent and display criminal tendencies are 
more likely to end up in mental hospitals than in 
jails. See, e.g., P. Chester, Women and Madness 
(1972) at 78-82, 107; H. Derosis & V. Pellegrino, 
The Book of Hope: How Women Can Overcome 
Depression (1976) at 3. 

. See, e.g., Blitman & Green, "Inez Garcia on 
Trial," Ms. Magazine, May 1975. 

90. This reinforces the general defense view that 
psychiatric defenses are usually resorted to only 
after everything else has failed. 

91. See, e.g., Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 123 § 48 
(Michie/Law Co-op 1972 & Supp. 1977); Neb. 
Rev. Stat. § 29.2203 (1975); Wis. Stat. Ann. § 
957.11 (West 1958). 

92. LaFave & Scott, supra note 41, at 317. In these 
jurisdictions commitment may be ordered upon a 
judicial finding that the defendant's insanity con- 
tinues or that she or he is dangerous. In most 
jurisdictions, the power to release the defendant 
from commitment is vested in the trial court. The 
defendant bears the burden of seeking release and 
establishing grounds for release beyond a 
reasonable doubt. It should be noted that these 
release provisions are often more severe than the 
release provisions for patients civilly committed. 

93. It may be difficult, however, to find a psychol- 
ogist or psychiatrist who can testify about the 
background circumstances and the woman's stale 
of mind in a non-sexist, clear and comprehensive 
manner. See § IV, infra. 

94. This kind of defense was apparently successful in 
the case of Francine Hughes, a battered woman 
who set fire to the bedroom in which her sleeping 

(continued on page 114) 




E* ^ 1^fl«BTtt 

not always as publicized as in Joan Little's 
case. But male guards serve another func- 
tion, not as overt as all that. In a recent 
suit brought by the Bedford Hills women 
against the institution, which sought the 
removal of the male guards, it came out in 
the state's testimony that male guards 
were "desirable" because they were a 
"stabilizing, humanizing factor"! In their 
presence, women acted more "ladylike," 
dressed better, used less "vulgar" lan- 
guage, got into fewer fights. In short, we 
surmise, they acted more "feminine," 
passive and submissive. 

Conditioned as all women are by the 
patriarchy to compete with each other for 
men's favors and attention, because we 
are taught that all the improvements we'll 
ever get in life come through the protec- 
tion and grace of a man, it is small wonder 
that such a subtle technique of brainwash- 
ing is used in women's prisons. So, it's not 
only a threat to have male guards around, 
it's a promise that, while inside, you'll 
fare better if you play up to them, if you 
behave in the manner prescribed to you by 
the patriarchy. This, along with the de- 
meaning chores, the drugs, the "counsel- 
ing," the sterilization, the possible rape, 
serves to implant deep in a woman's con- 
sciousness the lesson she mustn't forget in 
and out of prison, that we are the chattel 
of men, we have to serve them and to en- 
tertain them, according to their needs. 

The patriarchy, however, forgets that 
women have a tremendous capacity for 
psychic survival and a great will to resist. 
While a lot of the women in prison learn 
their lessons well, a lot more remain fully 
conscious of what's being done to them, 
and put up a constant struggle to remain 
women, strong and unbroken. 

Prisons have always been fermentation 
grounds which gave birth to a lot of 

Women, already toughened by a history 
of aggressive survival in the streets, more 
often than not turn into the strongest, 
most courageous revolutionaries of us all. 
Their high consciousness is an example for 
all of us who are fighting not only to sur- 
vive but also to bring down the forces that 

keep us oppressed. 

It is not surprising that a lot of these 
women are lesbians, because lesbians al- 
ready made their first revolutionary step 
when they broke the rules of patriarchy: 
that woman will sleep with man and will 
depend on him for her survival. Lesbians 
in prison form structures of support, en- 
tire families, in order to fight alienation 
and to give each other the solace and the 
strength to survive in prison. Lesbians do 
not fall for the games the administration 
plays by using male guards, they have no 
interest in playing up to men. Thus, while 
lesbians are by no means the only ones to 
rebel, they are usually at the core of the 

(continued on page 115) 

Chains Release Me 

: Time: : passesiby:;me; : ' i : 
While lying within this cell. 
They shackled my mind in bondage 
Changes we go through in jail 
1 think about the future 
My debates of the past 
Tears filled with joy and laughter 
My soul filled with 

1 meditate upon 
My two daughters whom I left at home 
The smiles that they carried 
Tears thai they shed 
For they knew mommy was near to love 
And understand 

The way that they cuddled next to my side 
Hanging tight to me like we can 

They threw time before me 
On that auction block 
Took me from my babies 
Without a second thought. 

While locked within these bars 
Of confusion and shame 
Chains release me, or 
I'll never be the same 

While walking here in darkness 
Willi my emotions in the air 
My soul is searching 
My mind is in despair. 
I'm pacing slow at the song of a lullaby 
And my babies are riding gently on mv 

Chains release me 

— Carolvn Smithers 



husband lay. See "Self-Defense Standard At 
Stake in Michigan Trial," In These Times, Aug. 
10-16, 1977, at 6; "Wife Cleared in Mate's 
Death," The Record, Nov. 4, 1977, at A-4. For 
an analogous application of this defense for poor 
and minority people, see Harris, "Black Rage: 
Political Psychiatric Defenses," Frontier Issues in 
Criminal Litigation (Aug. 1977), available from 
People's College of Law, Los Angeles, 

95. Walker, "The Battered Woman Syndrome Revis- 
ited: Psycho-Social Theories" (1977) (paper 
presented at the American Psychological Asso- 
ciation Annual Convention, San Francisco). 

96. The National Jury Project, P.O. Box 675, Brook- 
line Village, Massachusetts 02147, is an excellent 
resource for jury selection. The Project consists 
of 30 people, located around the country, who 
apply social science techniques to jury 
composition, venue, voir dire and selection prob- 
lems. Assistance of the National Jury Project was 
used in the cases of Joan Little and Inez Garcia. 
A priority of the Project's work is cases involving 
women's self-defense. 

97. A self-defense defense necessarily involves having 
the defendant testify. The considerations in pre- 
paring her testimony are suggested by the ideas 
explored herein, but are outside the scope of this 

98. The circumstances that were brought to the at- 
tention of the jury to demonstrate the reason- 
ableness of Inez Garcia's conduct included the 
following: that she had seen the man she shot, 
Miguel Jimenez, beat up her housemate earlier 
in the evening; that later that night Jimenez had 
acted as an accomplice to her rape; that shortly 
after the rape he threatened her over the 
telephone; that when she left the house carrying 
a loaded rifle she was terrified, angry and 
humiliated by having been raped; that when she 
came upon Jimenez and the rapist, Jimenez was 
holding a knife. All of this convinced her that 
he was capable of killing her. This factual 
evidence was supplemented by testimony from 
experts on the issue of rape. 

99. Voir dire (French for "speak the truth") usually 
refers to the examination by the court or by the 
attorneys of prospective jurors to determine 
their qualifications for jury service. 

100. The scope of voir dire examination of the jury 
varies from state to state. Some states will allow 
an extensive voir dire by counsel and a minimal 
voir dire by the judge. See, e.g., Cat. Penal 
Code § 1078 (1972); N.C. Gen. Stat. ch. 9 §9-15 
(1967). In other states, as well as in federal 
court, voir dire is largely conducted by the 
judge. See, e.g., Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 234 § 28 
(1957); N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A: 78-4 (1957). In 
many cases it may be appropriate to move for 
an expanded voir dire. This motion can also 
serve to educate the judge about the issues 
underlying the homicide, since their complexity 
is a reason why voir dire must be expanded. 

An excellent work in the area of voir dire and 
jury selection is Ginger, Jury Selection in 
Criminal Trials (1975). See also Van Dyke, 
"Voir Dire: How Should It Be Conducted to 
Ensure That Our Juries are Representative and 
Impartial," Hastings Const. L.J. 65 (1976). 

101. The jurors were extensively interviewed on the 
subject of rape with the following series of ques- 
tions: (1) Do you believe that women invite 
rape? (2) Do you believe that rape is a violent 
act, and (3) If so, do you believe that women 
enjoy it? (4) Have you or anyone close to you 
ever been raped? (5) Do you permit your daugh- 
ter to go out alone late at night? If not, why 
not? (6) What would you do if your wife or 
daughter were raped? This series of questions 
produced valuable interchanges between defense 
counsel and the jurors, and was significant in 
pointing out to the jury the myths surrounding 

102. In post-verdict interviews, it was apparent that 
the male jurors had been receptive to the expert 
testimony about rape. They had learned from it, 
and as planned, had ultimately seen the act of 
rape and the resulting homicide from the de- 
fendant's perspective. 

103. This composition was the result of several 
factors. Primary among them was the fact that 
the prosecution used peremptory challenges on 
all prospective women jurors who appeared 
sympathetic to Inez Garcia and/or to the 
women's movement. In addition, the defendant 
found some women jurors hostile to the wom- 
en's movement and to Inez Garcia due in large 
measure to the publicity and turmoil surround- 
ing her first trial. The main objective was to 
find jurors, male or female, who were open- 
minded about the case, and who could make a 
fair determination of the defense position that 
Inez Garcia, fearing for her life, shot her victim 
in self-defense. The jurors who were ultimately 
selected demonstrated those qualities. 

104. In many cases, it may be possible to Tile a 
motion to dismiss the indictment in the interest 
of justice which will provide an opportunity to 
educate the judge by appending useful literature 
to the motion and supporting briefs. 

105. In the Garcia trial, when the defense presented a 
brief in support of expert testimony on the issue 
of rape, supplemental scientific literature was 
provided in support of that motion. 

106. If the defense is one of impaired mental state, 
the testimony of an expert on that mental state 
may be required. 

107. See, e.g., Fed. R. Evid. 702. 

108. See "Points and Authorities in Support of 
Defendant's Use of Expert Testimony on the 
Subject of Reaction of Rape Victims to the Act 
of Rape, People v. Garcia," Frontier Issues in 
Criminal Litigation, supra note 94 (Aug. 1977). 

109. Studies indicate that there is no correlation 
between the incidence of rapes reported to the 
police and the actual number of rapes, for only 
a small minority of rape victims contact the 
police. See Queens Bench Foundation, Rape: 
Prevention and Resistance (1976). This 
testimony was particularly useful to the defense 
since the prosecution's theory was that Garcia's 
failure to report the rape to the police meant she 
had not been raped. 

110. One of the jurors interviewed after Garcia's ac- 
quittal remarked that he reacted negatively to 
expert testimony that Latina women reacted 
more adversely to being raped than other 
women because of their cultural background. 
He felt that his wife would be just as upset. De- 
spite his stated negative reaction to this 
testimony, his remark indicated that it had sub- 
stantial impact on his perceptions that women 
do not like being raped. 

111. See material cited in note 22 supra. 

112. See generally, Rape: The First Sourcebook for 
Women (N. Connell & C. Wilson, eds., 1974). 

113. Id. 

114. See notes 21 & 35 supra. 

115. In our experience, an expert from a university, 
for example, who has never testified before, 
may well make a valuable expert witness. The 
requirements for good expert testimony are less 
in testifying experience and more in the ability 
to present information clearly and sympatheti- 
cally to a jury. Juries act adversely to jargon, 
but react positively to information being shared 
with them in a noncondescending way. Often 
the inexperienced but well-prepared witness will 
be able to appear to the jury fresh and capable 
and will be very effective in conveying the infor- 
mation. However, the practitioner should be 
careful to prepare the expert witness both for 
direct and cross-examination so that difficulty is 
not met in either area. 

Lesbians and straight women, who re- 
fuse to submit and who resist the author- 
ities, the brainwashing, even the male 
guards, are all labeled "dangerous," 
"ring leaders," "troublemakers." Not 
only are they themselves an example of 
strong independent womanhood — the en- 
emy of the system — but they stick their 
necks way out to help the other women, 
they inspire others to resist. This can and 
often does lead to a full-fledged riot, as at 
Bedford Hills in 1974, and in Frontera, 
California, last spring. Such behavior is of 
course severely punished, and most of the 
revolutionary women end up doing an ex- 
traordinary amount of time in segrega- 
tion — the prison within prison where, for 



r ■«■••• •#.: 


«J ill I*' 


all intents and purposes, you are lost to 
the world. Also, another result of prison 
resistance is the lengthening of your 
prison sentence, often indeterminately, 
until it becomes vague when you will ever 
get out. These women who defy all odds 
against their bodies and minds in order to 
fight for their freedom as well as that of 
their sisters should be our heroines and 
guiding lights. 

Instead, the system tries to present them 
to us as bad. They want us to believe these 
women, and indeed all women in prison, 
are evil, dangerous and violent. These are 
the myths the system weaves for our 
benefit, so that their experience, the ex- 
perience of all incarcerated women, will 
seem completely alien to ours, a different 

There is a purpose to this. Just as the 
prison authorities don't want the women 
to talk to each other, to inspire each 
other, to help each other build a resistance 
movement, so also the system in general 
fears our getting together with women in 


prison. Because, as we begin to under- 
stand the threads that connect our exist- 
ence with that of incarcerated women, as 
the outlines of their experience begin to 
look more and more familiar, the Kafka- 
esque reality ceases to be so science- 
fictional! Prisons appear increasingly as 
microcosms of our society which represent 
in a highly intensified form the sexist, 
racist, classist structures which keep 
women everywhere oppressed. The more 
conscious we become of the similarity 
between our fate and the fate of our sis- 
ters in prison, the more we break down 
the division between "us" and "them," 
the "good little girls" and the "bad wom- 
en," the more we have the potential to 
unite and to combat efficiently our 
common enemy. 

Here lies the importance of our under- 

III III. :l i-i 
WW !*' i! 










standing the commonality of our ex- 
perience with that of our sisters in prison. 
At the same time, it is imperative that we 
make a huge leap in consciousness in or- 
der to understand the extremity of their 
situation, and also the extremity of the sit- 
uation that brought them to prison in the 
first place. We need to unite our struggles 
with those of incarcerated women. We 
need their strength, and they need ours. 
Together, we will form a power that the 
patriarchy will find hard to crush. 

— Charoula 

The Rockefeller Drug Law is ihe harshest drug law in 
the U.S. It affects primarily small users ralhcr lhan big 
time dealers (who are Iried in Ihe federal courts and 
receive remarkably milder sentences). The people con- 
victed under this state law rccievc harsher sentences 
mandatory life sentences with a minimum of 7-25 
years— lhan those convicted under all other felony 
classifications except first-degree murder. "Manda- 
tory" means that the judge cannot exercise any per- 
sonal discretion based on the person's relationship to 
the crime, his or her past criminal history, or other 
mitigating circumstances. It also means that no parole 
is available before the minimum is served in full. 
Under this law for example, a first offender and moth- 
er of 3 can get 15 years to life for passing a package of 
drugs at her mans request, in complete innocence of 
the contents of the package. Compare this to a first 
offender who can murder his girlfriend and gel to 7 
years with parole at 18 m-.w!;'-. 

You Woman—yes you— how can it be— the enemy captured you two years ago, 
held you in jail, forced you to take a plea, two (2) to four (4) they could no 
longer hold you in Rikers, so you were shipped to Bedford, Bedford the Car- 
nage Island— you are mistreated by the female guards— stripped of all your 
principles, forced into submission— You Woman, yes you, no longer a wom- 
an—the female guards have crushed you to your lowest ebb, you submit and 
become the shell that housed the real YOU; you are now assigned to a slave job, 
the cafe, the roaches have taken over, the female guard tower over your every 
move, you scream out for 


Now Pooah Woman, the male guards are here— a new assertion of authority— 
you continue to work, slaving and no pay— no money from the free world- 
commissary too high, more than the outside— so Pooah Woman, what'cha 
gonna do, ya gotta steal, you take lettuce, tomatoes, onions, butter and what- 
ever you can take to— SMOKE; 

Cigarettes all gone, no roll your own, you once again creep into the cooler, the 
coast is clear-so you think-SNATCHING-SNATCHlNG-filling your bag 
with things to sell, so you can smoke— SMOKE; 

Suddenly it happened, the male guard walked in, you begin to shake, he tells 
you that you will go to segregation for a long time, you begin to cry and plead 
with him not to write you— he smile as he begin to unzip his pants, he instruct 
you to kiss it for awhile, you don't want to, but you don't want segregation 
either _ you nervously take his organ with shaking hands as he attempts to 
lunge his organ into your mouth— you gag, but segregation is dangling in front 
of you— much too soon his organ has swollen twice the size and he insist you 
lift your dress quickly while he forces his penis into your vagina— you want to 
fight, but you are frozen with fear, you want to resist but his grip is one of 
DEATH— soon the brutal force breaks through and the hot-sperm from him 
floods your inside like a hot shower— it is all over for him, he left and returned, 
telling me to come out, you sneakily walk out unnoticed by the female guard; 

The male guard in running into you later tells you to keep your mouth shut, 
stating that no one would believe you anyway— because— the administration is 
adamant in telling you-people that your word has no validity— 

You continue to work on your slave job, stealing whenever you can— a week or 
so later you see the guard and he DEMANDS that you meet him at a certain 
time— you out of fear, COMPLY; 

You beg him not to do that again as you are afraid— he threatens you and you 
adhere to his demand— the procedure is basically the same, a repeat— the weeks 
fly, you are working, stealing to smoke when suddenly the stomach pains are 
constant— you see the nurse, you ask for the prison quack— after extensive 
complaining you are put down to see the prison QUACK; your urine is taken, 
much later you are called to the clinic, there is a female who identifies herself as 
a doctor, she tells the nurse to undress you and put you on the table— you 
question this, you are told that your urine came back SUSPICIOUS; you are 
internally examined, nothing is said to you— after all, you are no-body so why 
should they tell you anything about your self; 

Some time later you are called to go out to a special doctor— you are taken out, 
examined and are told that you are PREGNANT; 

Now Pooah Woman— whatcha gonna do— the female guards have taken your 
identity, made you a human robot— the male guard done-done-it-to ya— tell me 
Pooah Woman, whatsit gonna be— when can we be free from this PIG- 
ABUSE? — Dollree Mapp 



In March 1977 Imogene Knode was 
shot in the neck by her husband, in 
the living room of her mother's home 
where she had been living since her 
separation. He was free on $500 bail 
for having slit her throat. They had 
been married 7 years and had a 
daughter. Two weeks prior to her 
death, Imogene Knode wrote a letter 
to the editor, pleading for protection. 
"He has beat me, cut me, broke in 
my mother's house . . . among other 
things I cannot mention. The police 
say they can't do anything to him. 
Someone, please, tell me what to 
do." She was 25 years old. 

I want this poem to run like drano down his throat. 

I want this poem to be salt on a snail. 

I want it to be like an acid bath, lukewarm 

and ready in a shallow tub. 

I want this and not only in his dreams, though there 
first, there too. 

I was a woman and I was unsafe in my mother's, 
unsafe from my husband, unsafe 
in my mother's house. 

I am a woman choking on the stitches of a sewn-up scar. 
Ear to ear. 

I want this poem to be a lethal curse. 

A flower blooming its thirsty petals inside the enemy's 

breathing, protected throat. 

I had not heard of Inez Garcia. 

I had not heard of Yvonne Wanrow. 

I had not heard of Joan Little. I was a woman, 

gentle, and I did not live 

to hear my own name. 

I want this poem to be a basket of razorblades. 
A permanent trap in each woman's cunt. A trap 
that only desire or trust, desire 
and trust, would remove. 

I wish every woman a venomous bite. 

A boa-constrictor's reflex. 

A mother-bear's murderous will. I was a woman, 

gentle, and I did not live 

to hear of my sisters. 

I want this poem to be a scorpion 
poised in my husband's throat, thriving 
on fear like a mean god. 

The scorpion won't let him swallow. 

He has to hold back his cough. 

He has to spit his saliva. 

He feels the desert breeding in his lungs 

its rising sand-drifts of fear. 

Because my daughter is still young, young 
I want this poem to be a weapon. 
Because my sisters are many and still young 
I want this poem to be a weapon. 

Because none of them, none are safe 

from the enemy in each other's house, I want 

this poem to be a weapon. 

I was a woman, gentle, and I did not live. 

I call this poem to be a weapon. 
I give this poem authority to kill. 

-Olga Broumas 


Women and Violence Collective members: Janet Koenig, Gail Lineback, Claire Pajaczkowska, Marty Pottenger, 
Ann Marie Rousseau, Katy Taylor, Paula Webster. ■<■= -- 

Our thanks to: Lindsay Abrams, Barbara Barracks, Patsy Beckert, Lois Bender, Eva Cockcroft, Tony deLuna, 
Gate Dolan, Rachel Field, Su Friedrich, Janet Froelich, Pat Frazier, Lisa Garrison, Valerie Harris, Sue Hememann 
Beth Jaker Gladys Koppel, Shira Kotler, Pat Maher, Luis Moralez, Laura Newman. Lavinia Pinson, Am Sandoval, 
Amy Sillman, Elka Solomon, Nancy Spero, Sharon Thompson, Elizabeth Weatherford, Hazel Westney, Lynn Mer- 
rill Weyman, and the folks at Talbot. 


This bibliography was compiled with an 
eye for diversity. It is neither comprehen- 
sive nor complete. Many classic articles 
and books are missing while some obscure 
but wonderful ones have been included. 


Bibliography on Rape. Write: Washing- 
ton, D.C. Rape Crisis Center, P.O. Box 
21005, Washington, D.C. 20009. 
Field, Hubert, and Burnett, Nona S. 
"Forcible Rape: An Updated Bibliogra- 
phy. ' ' Journal of Criminal Law and Crim- 
inology, March 1977. 
Howard, Pamela F. Wife Beating: A Se- 
lected, Annotated Bibliography, 1978. 
Write: Current Bibliography Series, Box 
2709, San Diego, Cal. 92112. 
McShane, Claudette. Annotated Bibliog- 
raphy on Woman Battering, 1977. Write: 
Information Center, Midwest Parent- 
Child Welfare Resource Center, School of 
Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin 
at Milwaukee. 

Munroe, A. R. Research in Sexual Devi- 
ation and Sexual Offenses: A Bibliogra- 
phy, 1974. Write: Canadian Criminology 
and Corrections Association, 85 
Parkdale, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. 
Sperakas, Nicole B., and Evans, Hannah. 
Sexual Assault. Bibliography 1920-1975. 
Write: American Psychological Associa- 
tion, 1200 17th Street N.W., Washington, 
D.C. 20036; ask for Document MS 1368. 
The Rape Bibliography: A Collection of 
Abstracts. Write: St. Louis Feminist Re- 

search Project, 4431 McPherson, St. 
Louis, Mo. 63108. 

Toward a Prevention of Rape. Write: 
Rape Research Group, University of Ala- 
bama, Department of Psychology, Uni- 
versity, Ala. 35486. 


Burkhart, Kathryn Watterson. Women in 
Prison. New York: Popular Library, 

Court, J. H. "Pornography and Rape." 
Pornography and Sex Crimes, 6(3):62. 
(Department of Psychology, Flinders Uni- 
versity of S. Australia.) 
Erlanger, Howard, with Persily, Fred. 
"Estrangement, Machismo, and Vio- 
lence." A discussion paper for the Insti- 
tute for Research on Poverty, University 
of Wisconsin at Madison, 1976. (Free.) 
Foucault, Michel, ed. /, Pierre Riviere, 
Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sis- 
ter, and My Brother. . . . New York: 
Pantheon, 1975. 

Gebhart, Paul, et al. Sex Offenders. New 
York: Harper and Row, 1965. 
Gendin, S. "A Critique of the Theory of 
Criminal Rehabilitation." In: Punishment 
and Human Rights, ed. Milton Goldinger. 
Boston: Schenkman, 1974. 
Greenberg, Douglas. Crime and Law En- 
forcement in the Colony of New York, 
1691-1776. Reviewed in Journal for So- 
cial History, Winter 1977. 
Groft, Harvey J. "Pauperism, Misery, 
and Vice: Illiteracy and Criminality in the 
19th Century." Journal of Social History, 
2(2):245-269, Winter 1977. 
Klein, D., and Kress, J. "Any Women's 
Blues: A Critical Overview of Women, 

Crime, and the Criminal Justice System." 
Crime and Social Justice, 5:34-49, Spring/ 
Summer 1976. 

Resources for Community Change, P.O. 
Box 21066, Washington, D.C. 20009. 
Women Behind Bars: An Organizing 
Tool. 1975 (cost: $1.75.) 
Smart, Carol. "Criminological Theory: 
Its Ideology and Implications Concerning 
Women." British Journal of Sociology 
28:89-100, March 1977. 


Atkinson, Ti Grace. Amazon Odyssey. 
New York: Quick Fox, 1974. 
Firestone, Shulamith. The Dialectic of 
Sex. New York: Bantam Books, 1970. 
Reiter, Rayna R., ed. Toward an Anthro- 
pology of Women. New York: Monthly 
Review Press, 1975. 

Trenfield, Karen. "On the Role of Biol- 
ogy in Feminist Ideology." Hecate: A 
Women's Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 
3, No. 2, July 1977. 

Jenssen-Jurreit, Marielouise. Sexism/Ub- 
er die Abstreibung der Frauenpage Mun- 
ich-Vienna, Carl Hanser Verlag, 1976. 


Barker, Diana Leonard, and Allen, 
Sheila, eds. Sexual Divisions and Society: 
Process and Change. London: Tavistock, 

David, D., and Brannon, R., eds. The 
Forty-Nine Percent Majority: The Male 
Sex Role. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wes- 
ley, 1976. 

Goffman, Erving. Interaction Ritual: Es- 
says on Face to Face Behavior. Garden 



jHKu. & A.. Sta. 

Kristin Booth Glen. Abortion in the Courts: A 
Laywoman's Guide to the Disaster Area, Judith 
Lowder Newton, Pride and Prejudice: Power. 
Fantasy, and Subversion in Jane Austen. Wini 
Breines, Margaret Oerulla, and Judith Stacey, 
Social Biology, Family Studies, and Anti- 
Feminist Backlash. Jane Marcus, Art and 
Anger. Berenice Carroll, "To Crush Him in Our 
Own Country": The Political Thought of 
Virginia Woolf. Nancy Choderow, Mothering. 
Object-Relations, and the Female Oedipal 
Configuration. Annis Pratt, Aunt .Jennifer's 
Tigers: Notes Towards a Prcliterary History of 
Women's Archetypes. Mary Elizabeth Perry, 
"Lost Women" in Early Modern Seville: The 
Politics ot Prostitution POETRY by Frances 
Jaffer, Alexandre Grilikhes. ART bv Judy 


Three issues annually 
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Anarchist Feminism • Conversations with 
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For inlornunon about Mjhmutinj: mjnu\i:npt:, o 
artwork [or puhliutimn. wruc to the managing cJiio. 


City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1967. 
Maccoby, E. E., and Jacklin, C. N. The 
Psychology of Sex Difference. Stanford: 
Stanford University Press, 1974. 
Money, John, and Ehrhardt, Anke A. 
Man and Woman, Boy and Girl. New 
York: Mentor, 1972. 

Zaretsky, Eli. "Male Supremacy and the 
Unconscious." Socialist Revolution 
21/22:5-57, January 1975. 


Barker-Benfield, J- "Sexual Surgery in 
Late 19th Century America." Interna- 
tional Journal of Health Services, 5(2): 
279-198, 1975. 

Ehrenreich, Barbara, and English, Deir- 
dre. "Complaints and Disorders: The 
Sexual Politics of Sickness." Glass Moun- 
tain Pamphlet, No. 2. New York: The 
Feminist Press, 1973. 
Ehrenreich, Barbara, and English, Deir- 
dre. "Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A 

an independent womens newsjoumsl 

women in straggle 

politics, health, work, prison 

news coverage and political analysis 
on the issues that affect womens lives 

contributing sub $12 Of more 

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oob, 1724 20th st.nw, 
wash, dc 20009 

History of Women Healers." Glass 
Mountain Pamphlet, No. 1. New York: 
The Feminist Press, 1973. 
Frank, Kathy. Anti-Psychiatry Bibliogra- 
phy and Resource Guide. Write: Mental 
Patients Association, 2146 Yew Street, 
Vancouver, Canada. 

Lear, Julia. "Women's Health: The Side 
Effects of Sex Bias." In: The Victimiza- 
tion of Women, ed. Chapman and Gates. 
Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1978. 
The Women's Work Project/Union for 
Radical and Political Economics. Women 
in Health. Write: Box 462, Silver Springs, 
Md. 20907. (50<t.) 


Alliance Against Sexual Coercion, P.O. 
Box 1, Cambridge, Mass. 02139. 
Center for Women's Policy Studies, 2000 
P St. N.W., Suite 508, Washington, D.C. 
20036. Send for Guide to Programs Pro- 
viding Services to Battered Women in the 

Institute for Sex Research, 416" Morrison 
Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, 
Ind. 47401. Services by mail include: bibli- 
ographic searches, referrals to individuals 
engaged in similar research, help in gath- 
ering specific information. 
National Center for Prevention and Con- 
trol of Rape, 10C-03 Parklawn Building, 
5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Md. 20857. 
Safe House, Northwest Matrix, 1628 E. 
19th St., Eugene, Ore. 97403. 
Union W.A.G.E., Union Women's Alli- 
ance to Gain Equality, P.O. Box 462, 
Berkeley, Cal. 94701. 
Women's Self-Defense Law Project, 853 
Broadway, 14th Floor, NY 10003. The 
Women's Self Defense Law Project, a 
joint effort of the Center for Constitu- 
tional Rights, and the National Jury Proj- 
ect, has been formed to work on all the 
aspects of women's self defense cases in- 
volving women who have been forced to 
defend themselves as a result of physical 
or sexual assault. 


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Working Women United Inst., 593 Park 
Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021. 


Akwesasne Notes, A Journal for Native 
and Natural Peoples, Mohawk Nation, 
via Rooseveltown, N.Y. 13683. 

Black Belt Women, a magazine for wom- 
en in the martial arts. Write: B.B.W., 22 
Ashcroft Rd., Medford, Mass. 02155. 
Coyote Howls, Box 26354, San Francisco, 
Cal. 94102. Prostitution news. 

F.A.A.R./N.C.N. (Feminist Alliance 
Against Rape and National Communica- 
tion Network), P.O. Box 21033, Washing- 
ton, D.C. 20009. 

Moonstorm, a lesbian feminist magazine, 
P.O. Box 4201, Tower Grove Station, St. 
Louis, Mo. 63118. 

Our Bodies, Ourselves, also available in 
Spanish from Boston Women's Health 
Book Collective, Inc., Box 192, West 
Sommerville, Mass. 02144. 
Puerto Rico Libre, a bulletin of the Puer- 
to Rico Solidarity Committee, P.O. Box 
319, Cooper Station, New York, N.Y. 

Southern Exposure: A Journal of Politics 
and Culture, P.O. Box 230, Chapel Hill, 
N.C. See Vol. 3, No. 1 "South Black Ut- 
terances Today," Vol. 4, Nos. 1 & 2, "La- 
bor on the Move," Vol. 4, No. 4, "Wom- 
en in the South." 

Women's International Network News, 
W.I.N. News, 187 Grant Street, Lexing- 
ton, Mass. 02173. 

Working on Wife Abuse. Write: Betsy 
Warrior, 46 Pleasant St., Cambridge, 


Bullough, Vern. Bibliography of Prostitu- 
tion. New York: Garland Press, 1977. 
Heyl, Barbara S. The Madam as Entre- 
preneur: Political Economy of a House of 
Prostitution. New Jersey: Transaction, 

James, Jennifer. "The Prostitute as Vic- 
tim." Sage Yearbooks in Women's Policy 
Studies, 3: 175-201. 

Johnson, Robbie Davis. "Folklore and 
Women: A Social Interactional Analysis 
of the folklore of a Texas Madam." 
Journal of American Folklore 86: 
211-224, 1973. 

Millet, Kate. The Prostitution Papers. 
New York: Avon Books, 1973. 
The Prostitution Education Project, Al- 
leycat, P.O. Box 1824J Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Rosen, Ruth, and Davidson, Sue. The 
Maimie Papers. New York: Feminist 
Press, 1977. 
Seymour-Smith, Martin. Fallen Women. 




London: Nelson Press, 1969. 
Summers, Anne. Damned Whores and 
God's Police: The Colonization of Wom- 
en in Australia. Canada: Penguin Books, 

Wepman, Dennis, Newman, R.B. and 
Binderman M.B. The Life: the lore and 
folk poetry of the black Hustler. Pennsyl- 
vania: University of Pennsylvania, 1976. 
Withers, J.; James, J.; Haft, M.; and 
Theiss, Sara. The Politics of Prostitution. 
Order from 335 N.E. 53rd St., Seattle, 
Wash. 98105. 


Albin, RochelleS. "Psychological Studies 
of Rape." Signs: Journal of Women in 
Culture and Society, Vol. 3, No. 2, Win- 
ter 1977. 

Barnes, Dorothy L. Rape: A Bibliography 
1965-1975. Troy, N.Y.: Whilson, 1977. 
Berger, Vivian. "Men's Trial, Women's 
Tribulation: Rape Cases in the Court- 
room." Columbia Law Review, 77: 
1-104, January 1977. 
Brownmiller, S. Against Our Will. New 
York: Simon and Schuster, 1975. 
Chappell, S. "Cross-Cultural Research on 
Forcible Rape." International Journal of 
Criminology and Penology, 4: 295-304, 
August 1976. 

Clark, L., and Lewis, D. Rape: The Price 
of Coercive Sexuality . Toronto: Women's 
Press, 1977. 

Curley, E. M. "Excusing Rape." Philoso- 
phy and Public Affairs, 5: 325-360, Sum- 
mer 1976. 

Davis, Angela. "Dialectics of Rape." MS 
Magazine, p. 74, June 1974. 
Davis, Angela. "Racism and Contempo- 
rary Literature on Rape." Freedomways, 
16(1): 25-35, 1976. 

Friedman, D., "Rape, Racism, and Real- 
ity." F.A.A.R. and N.C.N. , July/ Aug- 
ust 1978. Write: Box 21033, Washington, 
D.C. 20009. 

Gibbons, T. C. N. "Behavioral Types of 
Rape." British Journal of Psychiatry, 
130: 32-42, January 1977. 
Gleason, Kathy, with Devereux, Sean. 
"Rape Law: A Case Study." Southern 
Exposure, 4(4): 55-57, Winter 1977. 
Haskell, Molly. From Reverence to Rape: 
The Treatment of Women in the Movies. 
Canada: Penguin Books, 1974. 
Innes, Rosalind. "What She Needs Is a 
Good Fuck: Rape and Femininity." Hec- 
ate: A Women's Interdisciplinary Jour- 
nal, 2(2): 23-30, July 1976. 
Klemnack, Susan and Klemnack, David. 
"Correlates of the Sociological Definition 
of Rape." Sociology Department, Univer- 
sity of Alabama, University, Ala. 35486. 
Kostash, Myrna. "Rape: Machismo's 

Secret Police? Questions, More Ques- 
tions." This Magazine, 9, June 1975. 
Mehrof, B., and Kearon, P. "Rape: An 
Act of Terror." Notes from the Third 
Year. New York City: Quadrangle Books, 

Olson, Ruth A. "Rape: An 'Un-Victor- 
ian' Aspect of Life in Upper Canada." 
Ontario History, 68(2): 75-79, June 1976. 
Peck, Nancy. "Getting Off on Rape." 
Hecate: A Women's Interdisciplinary 
Journal, 1(2): 35-59, July 1975. 
"Rape and Other Forms of Violence," 
American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 
133, No. 4, April 1976. 
Schwendinger, J., and Swendinger, H. 
"A Review of Rape Literature." Crime 
and Social Justice, Vol. 6: 79-85, Fall- 
Winter 1976. 

Shorter, Edward. "On Writing the His- 
tory of Rape." Signs: A Journal of Wom- 
en in Culture and Society, 471-483, Win- 
ter 1977. 

Silverman, Daniel. "Female Rape Victims 
and the Male Counselor." American 
Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 47, No. 
1, January 1977. 

Socialist Women's Caucus of Louisville. 
"The Racist Use of the Rape Charge." 
July 1978. Write: P.O. Box 11416, Louis- 
ville, Kent. 40211. 

Soothill, K. L., et al. "Rape: A 22- Year 
Cohort Study." Medicine, Science, and 
the Law, 16:62, January 1976. 

For those interested in court decisions re- 
lating to rape, consult: Sex Problems 
Court Digest, Civil Rights Court Digest, 
Crime Control Digest, Women's Rights 
Law Reporter, Criminal Law Reporter, 
Sexual Law Reporter. All of the above are 
available from Juridicial Digests Institute, 
1860 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10023. 

"Scholarly journals are seldom instruments of change, but, as part of a social 
and intellectual movement, Signs has that potential."— Margot Peters, The 
Chronicle of Higher Education 


Journal of Women in Culture and Society- 
is an interdisciplinary forum devoted to the new scholarship about women. 
In an attempt to comprehend the totality of women's lives and the realities of 
which they have been a part, Signs has published work in history, sociology, 
anthropology, economics, biology and medicine, political science and law, 
psychology, theology, criticism, and aesthetics. Articles in 1978 will include: 

Sally McConnell-Ginet, Intonation in a Man's World 

Sally Kohlstedt. Working in from the Periphery: Women Physicians in Nineteenth- 
Century America 

Lois Magner, Women and the Scientific Idiom 

Marcia Cuttentag et al. , Evaluating Women's Studies: A Decision-Theoretic Approach 

Paul Andrisani, Job Satisfaction among Working Mothers 

Sharon Sutherland, Why Aren't Women the Heroes? 

Use Vogel. What Factory Girls Had Power to Do 

Carroll McC. Pastner. Englishmen in Arabia: Encounters with Female Imagery in the 
Middle East 

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Barker-Benfield, J. The Horrors of the 
Half-Known Life: Male Attitudes To- 
wards Women and Sexuality in 19th Cen- 
tury America. New York: Harper Colo- 
phon Books, 1976. 

de Beauvoir, Simone. "Must We Burn 
Sade?" In: The Marquis de Sade. New 
York: Grove Press, 1954. 
Degler, Carl N. "What Ought to Be and 
What Was: Women's Sexuality in 19th 
Century America." American Historical 
Review, 79(5): 1467-1490, December 

Gagnon, J. and Simon, W. Sexual Con- 
duct. Chicago: Aldine, 1973. 
Haberly, David T. "Women and Indians: 
The Last of the Mohicans and the Captiv- 
ity Tradition." American Quarterly, 78: 
431-443, Fall 1976. 

International Journal of Psycho- Analysis, 
"Freud & Female Sexuality" 29th Inter- 
national Psychiatric Analytic Congress, 
London, Vol. 57, Part 3, 1976. 
Kayden, Xandra. "Politics and 
Sexuality." Harvard Political Review, 
4(3): 10-16, Spring 1976. 


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Laws, Judith Long, and Schwartz, Pep- 
per. Sexual Scripts: The Social Construc- 
tion of Female Sexuality. Illinois: Dryden 
Press, 1977. 

Mellon, Joan. Women and Their Sexual- 
ity in the New Film. New York: Horizon 
Press, 1973. 

Masters, R. E. L., and Lead, Edward. 
The Anti-Sex, The Belief in the Natural 
Inferiority of Women: Studies in Male 
Frustration and Sexual Conflict. New 
York: Julian Press, 1964. 
Newman, R. P. "Recent Work in the His- 
tory of Sexuality." Journal of Social His- 
tory, 2(3):419-426. 1977. 
Quaife, G. R. "The Consenting Spinster 
in a Peasant Society: Aspects of Premar- 
ital Sex in 'Puritan' Somerset, 1645- 
1660." Journal of Social History, 2(2): 
228-245. 1977. 

Reage, P. The Story ofO. New York: Bal- 
lantine, 1973. 

Rossi, William. The Sex Life of the Foot 
and Shoe. New York: Saturday Review 
Press E. P. Dutton, 1976. 
Sontag, Susan. "The Pornographic Imag- 
ination." In: Styles of Radical Will. 
Delta: Dell Publishers, 1970. 
Trumbach, Randolph. "London's Sodo- 
mites: Homosexual Behavior and Western 
Culture in the 18th Century." Journal of 
Social History, 2(1): 1-34, Fall 1977. 
Wiseman, Jacqueline. The Social Psy- 
chology of Sex. New York: Harper and 
Row, 1976. 


Brodsky, Klemmdck, et al. Sexual As- 
sault: A Literature Analysis. Center for 
Correctional Psychology, Report #33. 
Write: Rape Research Group, Depart- 
ment of Psychology, University of Ala- 
bama, University, Ala. 35486. 
Chapman, J. R., and Gates, M., eds. 
"The Victimization of Women." Sage 
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Vol. 3 Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 

Fannon, Franz. The Wretched of the 
Earth. New York: Grove Press 1968. 
Feld, Maury D. The Structure of Vio- 
lence. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 

Goldinger, M., ed. Punishment and Hu- 
man Rights. Boston: Schenkman, 1974. 
Harris, J. "The Marxist Conception of 
Violence." Philosophy and Public Af- 
fairs, 3:192-220, 1973-1974. 
Lukes, S. Power: A Radical View. Lon- 
don: Macmillan, 1974. 
Storr, Anthony. Human Aggression. New 
York: Bantam Books, 1968. 
Toch, Hans. Violent Men: An Inquiry 
into Psychology of Violence. Chicago: 
Aldine, 1969. 

Wilkinson, P. Political Terrorism. Lon- 
don: Macmillan, 1974. 
Young, Robert. "Revolutionary Terror- 
ism, Crime, and Morality." Social Theory 
and Practice, Vol. 4, No. 3, Fall 1977. 


Armstrong, Louise. Kiss Daddy Good- 
night: A Speakout on Incest. New York: 
Hawthorne Books, 1978. 
Butler, Sandra. Conspiracy of Silence: 
The Trauma of Incest. San Francicso: 
New Glide Publications, 1978. 
Chapman, J. R., and Gates. M., eds. 
Women into Wives: The Legal and Eco- 
nomic Impact of Marriage. Beverly Hills: 
Sage Publications, 1977. 
Davidson, Terry. Conjugal Crime: Un- 
derstanding and Changing the Wife Beat- 
ing Pattern. New York: Hawthorne 
Books, 1978. 

D'Oyley, Vincent, ed. Domestic Violence: 
Issues and Dynamics. Informal Series #7, 
Ontario Institute for Studies in Educa- 
tion, 1978. Write: 252 Bloor St. W., Tor- 
onto, Ontario M5S 1V6. 
Guichard, Marie-Therese, and Decamp, 
Marie Claude. "Au Secors! Mon Mari Me 
Bat." Le Point, 161:117-119, 1975. 
Herman, Judith, and Hirschman, Lisa. 
"Father and Daughter Incest." Signs: 
Journal of Women in Culture and Socie- 
ty, 2(4):735-756, Summer 1977. 
Rubin, Lillian B. Worlds of Pain. New 
York: Basic Books, 1976. 
Steinmetz, S., and Straus, M. Violence in 
the Family. New York: Harper and Row, 

Tomes, Nancy. "A Torrent of Abuse: 
Crimes of Violence Between Working 
Class Men and Women in London 1840- 
1875." Journal of Social History, 2(3): 
328-346, Spring 1978. 
"Unforgettable Letters from Battered 
Wives." MS. Magazine 5:97-100, Decem- 
ber 1976. 

Weber, Ellen. "Sexual Abuse Begins at 
Home." MS. Magazine 5:64-67, April 


Bibliography com. 


Eisen Bergman, Arlene. Women of Viet 
Nam. San Francisco: People's Press, 

Eisenstein, Zillah R., ed. Capitalist Patri- 
archy and the Case for Socialist Femi- 
nism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 

Goldman, Emma. Living My Life. New 
York: AMS Press, 1970. 
Kollontai, Alexandra. Selected Writings 
(translated with an introduction and com- 
mentaries by Alix Holt). Connecticut: 
Lawrence Hill, 1977. 
Luxemburg, Rosa. Reform or Revolu- 
tion. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973. 
Rowbotham, Sheila. Women, Resistance, 
and Revolution. New York: Pantheon, 

Smedley, Agnes. Portraits of Chinese 
Women in Revolution. New York: The 
Feminist Press, 1976. 


Baxabdall, Rosalyn; Gordon, Linda; and 
Reverby, Susan, eds. America's Working 
Women. New York: Vintage Books, 1976. 
Braverman, Harry. Labor and Monopoly 
Capitol: The Degradation of Work in the 
Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly 
Review Press, 1974. 

Bularzik, Mary. "Sexual Harassment at 
the Workplace: Historical Notes." Radi- 
cal America, pp. 25-41, 1978. 
Organize! A Working Woman's Hand- 
book. Union W.A.G.E. Education Com- 
mittee, P.O. Box 462, Berkeley, Cal. 

Schlossberg, S.', and Sherman, F.E. Orga- 
nizing and the Law. Bureau of National 
Affairs, 1971. 

Silverman, D. "Sexual Harassment: 
Working Women's Dilemma." Quest: A 
Feminist Quarterly, 3:15-24, Winter 1977. 
Wertheimer, Barbara Mayer. We Were 
There: Story of Working Women in 
America. New York: Random House, 

Westin, Joan. Making Do, How Women 
Survived in the 30's. Chicago: Follett, 

"Women, Class and the Family," The 
Review of Radical Political Economics. 
U.R.P.E. Vol. 9, No. 3, 41 Union Square 
West, Rm. 901, New York, N.Y. 10003. 
Women's Work Project, U.R.P.E. 
"Women in Today's Economic Crisis." 
Send 50$ to: Box 462, Silver Springs, Md. 

Working Papers in Sex, Science, and Cul- 
ture. Write: Box 83, Wentworth 
Building, 174 City Road, Darlington 
20008, Australia. 

Donna Allegra is "a freelance writer and 
athlete who inhabits the lower eastside. 
Brooklyn born and bred, I do radio in 
mid-Manhattan at WBAI. I believe that 
women are the world." 

Christina C. Arguedas is a second-year 
student at Rutgers Law School who has 
worked with the Yvonne Wanrow defense 

Marline Barrat has worked with La Mama 
and with Charles Bobo Shaw and The Hu- 
man Arts Ensemble — involving dance, 
acrobatics, video and music. She has been 
working since 1971 with members of street 
gangs on the Lower East Side, Harlem 
and the South Bronx. "They were my 
teachers. Violence is a condition, it's not 

Diana Bellessi, a 32 year old visionary 
poet of Argentina, studied philosophy at 
Universidad Nacional de Rosario. She has 
travelled the road of the working classes 
through South America, Central and 
North America, primarily on foot. In re- 
cent years she has been working with the 
Indian people of her country, recreating 
their myths and writing Fundaciones. 

Susan Bram. "The Ad Hoc Women's 
Studies Committee Against Sterilization 
Abuse is a group of women engaged in 
study and action aimed towards reproduc- 
tive freedom for women regardless of 
class, race or culture. Since 1977 we have 
been involved in writing, speaking, lobby- 
ing and protesting on the issue of steriliza- 
tion abuse and relating it to the broader 
issues of economic and social oppression 
of women." 

Olga Broumas. "I am currently unpack- 
ing my papers and duds at the U of Idaho 
in Moscow for a teaching stint, having 
just taught feminist aesthetics at the U of 
Oregon in Eugene. Before that, Greece, 
after this, Vermont. Hard at work on a 
third book and hoping for a publisher for 
my second: SOIE SAUVAGE." 

Cynthia Carr is a writer who lives in New 

Charoula works with Women Free Wom- 
en in Prison, a group of women commit- 
ted to breaking down the isolation of 
women in prison and bringing to outside 
groups and individuals the needs and de- 
mands of the sisters behind bars. "We are 
constantly learning from our interaction 
with these women that the racism, sexism 
and classism of the Corrections Depart- 
ment is part and parcel of the oppressive 
forces operating in society, and within 

ourselves as well. We visit the women reg- 
ularly and try to keep them informed 
about what's going on outside by sending 
them books, magazines, etc. We welcome 
any woman who would like to work with 

Cathy Cockrell, after trying her hand at 
boat and newspaper businesses in the 
Northwest where she grew up, has been 
working for three years as a writer and 
photographer with Liberation News Serv- 
ice in N.Y.C. She hopes to write fiction 
and continue contributing to women's 
and left media. 

Blanche Wiesen Cook is a professor of 
History at John Jay College. She is also a 
writer and journalist whose most recent 
book is Chrystal Eastmen on Women and 
Revolution (Oxford University Press). 
She is now working on a book about Ei- 
senhower and Nixon contracted by Dou- 
bleday. Of interest to Heresies readers is 
her article "Female Support Networks" 
which appears in the third issue of 

Rachel Blau DuPlessis teaches at Temple 
University, is an editor of Feminist Stud- 
ies, and has appeared in such journals as 
Chrysalis, Montemora, Boundary 2 and 
(forthcoming) The Massachusetts Review. 
"Breasts" originally appeared in Connec- 
tions 5, (Spring '77). 

Andrea Dworkin is the author of Women 
Hating (Dutton, 1974) and Our Blood: 
Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Pol- 
itics (Harper and Row, 1976). She is cur- 
rently working on a feminist analysis of 

Because although we live in the country, the topics 
wt explore are vital to every woman, wherever she 
lives. Half of each issue presents a different theme 
(Personal Power, Anger and Violence, Sexuality, 
Women As Mothers/Women As Daughters) and the 
other half consists of articles on learning specific skills 
(building a solar energy collector, caring for cows and 
goats, reglazing windows, and winter gardening). 


Regular Subscription S6/year 

Supporting Subscription S10/year 

Sustaining Subscription S15/year 

Country Women, Box 51, Albion, California ^5410 


pornography, to be published by Anchor/ 
Doubleday in 1981. 

Dianne Feeley is presently running for 
governor of NY State on the S.W.P. 

Judith Friedlander teaches anthropology 
at SUNY, Purchase, NY. She is presently 
doing field work in the Jewish community 
of Paris. Her book, Being Indian in 
Hueyapan, (St. Martin's, 1975), focuses 
on questions of class and ethnicity in 

Su Friedrich lives in N.Y.C., is a photog- 
rapher and does past-up for a living. 

Lisa Garrison is an occasionally violent 
individual who has been undergoing trau- 
matic experiences since age three and 
enjoys going down to the docks to weep. 

Paula Gray. "I am a painter and cartoon- 
ist living and working in Venice, Ca. I'm 
presently making my living by doing com- 
ic books and film strips for a non-profit 
organization, The Constitutional Rights 

Karen A. Hagberg lives in Rochester, NY, 
the hometown of Susan B. Anthony, 
where she is co-publisher of the New 
Women's Times. 

Eleanor Hakim is a New York-based col- 
lege teacher and writer who has published 
essays on literature, drama, culture and 
politics. Her produced plays include Ele- 

phant & Flamingo Vaudeville and A Les- 
bian Play for Lucy. "La Mutualite" is 
one of a series of essays and evocations 
written under the title In Defense of Fal- 
len Comrades. 

Margaret F. Harrison is one of the foun- 
der's of the women's art movement in 
England. She lives in London, but has 
also been active in Northern England and 
Ireland. She is a co-founder of the Wom- 
en's Work Exhibition and consistantly 
works with trade unions. 

Fran P. Hosken, editor of Women's 
International Network News, is a journa- 
list and author. For more information on 
female mutilation, send $1 plus a SASE to 
WIN News, 187 Grant St., Lexington, 
Mass. 02173. 

Joan Howarth works with WAVAW and 
the National Committee Against Repres- 
sive Legislation. She is also attending Uni- 
versity of California Law School. 

Susan B. Jordan is a 1970 graduate of 
Northwestern University School of Law, a 
member of the San Francisco firm of 
Cumings, Jordan and Morgan, Professor 
at New College School of Law, and a Co- 
operating Attorney with the Center for 
Constitutional Rights. Ms. Jordan repre- 
sented Inez Garcia in her appeal and re- 
trial, and she and Ms. Schneider are co- 
counsel for Yvonne Wanrow in her 
retrial, together with Mary Alice Theiler 
of Seattle 

The Kitty Genovese Women's Project 
published a 20 page tabloid, March 8, 
1977, listing the names and cases of thous- 
ands of Dallas, Texas men indicted for sex 
offenses ageainst women from 1960 to 
1976. They can be reached at K.G.W.P., 
316 5th Ave., Suite 301, NYC NY 10001. 

Janet Koenig is a conceptual artist and 
book designer. 

Leslie Labowitz is an artist who has re- 
cently returned from a 6 year stay in 
Europe primarily in W.Germany and 
Spain. She spent one year on a DAAD- 
Fulbright at the art academy in Dussel- 
dorf, W. Germany to work with Joseph 
Beuys. She taught at a German gymnasi- 
um, the University of Bonn and the U of 
Maryland/European Division and collab- 
orated with women's political organiza- 
tions in Germany to create a framework 
for political art. 

Suzanne Lacy is a feminist artist who has 
been active in California since 1970. She 
is integrally involved in the Woman's 
Bldg. in L.A. and teaches at the Feminist 
Studio Workshop, as well as various col- 
leges and universities in California. Her 
work includes performance, video, 
photography, books, graphic forms and 
expresses feminist political concepts. 

Jacqueline Lapidus is a radical lesbian 
feminist who lives in Paris. 

Gail Lineback is a movie (star). 

A limited offer 

of feminist classics* q^st 

Until they are gone: 

Volumes I and It of Quest: a feminist quarterly, in convenient, attrac- 
tive, durable box binders for efficient research, easy reference, safe- 

Quest articulates and explores feminist issues, in original essays and 
articles by leading theorists and activists, including: 

Charlotte Bunch 
Rita Mae Brown 
Nancy Hartsock 
Karen Kollias 
Alice Quinn 
Lucia Valeska 
Sandra Flowers 
Sally Gearhart 

Mary Daly 
Z Budapest 
Joanna Russ 
Bertha Harris 
Cynthia Washington 
Linda Phelps 
Jackie St. Joan 
Joan Landes 

Volume I, 1974-75: Processes of Change;* Money, Fame & Power; Self- 
hood of Women; Women & Spirituality. 

Volume II, 1975-76: Future Visions & Fantasies; Theories of Revolu- 
tion;* Organizations & Strategies; Leadership. 

•These issues available only in complete sets of boxed volumes. 

To order, fill in coupon and send check to Quest: a feminist quar- 
terly, P.O. Box 8843, Washington, D.C. 20003. 

! ! Please send Vol. I for $25.00 r ' Please send Vol. II for S25.00 

! ; Please send Vol. I & II for $45.00 Tj Please enter a subscription for $9.00. 







Eunice Upton is an art historian who lives 
and works in N.Y.C. She is a teacher and 
writer who is committed to understanding 
the social and political meanings and uses 
of art. 

Linda Lombardo. "Formerly a social 
worker in Cleveland, Ohio, I have been 
living in Rome for the past 4 years where I 
have been active in Self-Help and Con- 
sciousness-Raising groups." 

Julie London was in a feminist studio 
workshop in the Woman's Building in Los 
Angeles. She is one of the founders of 
WAVAW and has completed her B.A. in 
the Program of Comparative Cultures at 
the University of California (Irvine). She 
has completed three years of graduate 
work in Anthropology and has worked as 
a boycott organizer with UFW. 

Malikah (slave name Delores Smith) is 
currently at Fulton (Bronx) after having 
served two years of her sentence at Bed- 
ford Hills. She was one of the many wom- 
en who brought a suit against the institu- 
tion protesting the presence of male 
guards in their private quarters. For this 
action, she has since been harassed and 
her removal to Fulton is no doubt an at- 
tempt to separate her from her friends in 
struggle at Bedford. 

Dollree Mapp is the Civil Rights heroine 
of the celebrated US Supreme Court de- 
cision, Mapp vs. Ohio, which held that 
evidence obtained without a search war- 
rant was inadmissible in court, and thus 
reinforced our right to privacy. For this 
interference with "justice" she was 
sought for years by police who finally 
caught up with her in New York City and 
framed her for a crime she did not com- 
mit—possession of drugs. She is currently 
serving a 20-to-life sentence at BHCF. Her 
friends and supporters have formed the 
Dollree Mapp Defense Committee (c/o 
Women Free Women in Prison, Box 283, 
W. Nyack, NY) which is committed to 
fight for her freedom. 

Pam McAllister is a freelance writer living 
in N.Y.C. She has been published in femi- 
nist newspapers and has written an article 
about DES-daughters for The Ladies' 
Home Journal. Her play about women 
and patriarchal religion, "Approaching 
the Apple," recently won the Unitarian- 
Universalist Religious Arts Guild Play- 
writing Contest. She is currently working 
on a major project concerning nonvio- 
lence, feminism and self defense. 

Elaine Butler McCarthy was active in fem- 
inist and anti-war groups before moving 
to Paris three years ago. She is Arts Editor 
of the English-language magazine The 

Paris Metro and a member of The Poetry 
Collective of the Paris Organization of 
Women, English-speaking feminists. 

Lou McDonald is a 13 year old feminist 
who is presently working on her writing 
and thinking about photography. 

Mary Metzger. "For the past two years I 
have worked as a researcher and consul- 
tant for various organizations in NYC 
working with battered women. I am mar- 
ried and have three daughters." 

Stephanie Oursler. An American artist 
who lived in Rome 1971-78 is known for 
her mixed media installations, perform- 
ances and narrative art. 

Happy New Year, An Album of Violence, pub- 
lished by the Italian Feminist Collective, Edizoni 
Dellc Donne in 1976, resulted from an installa- 
tion done in December 1975 in the Gallery of 
Romana Loda, Multi-Media, Erbusco Brecia, 
Italy. The book is based on a pin-up calendar 
format: A tearout 12 part album with a large 
photo of one woman for each month and a three 
inch clip of news for each dated calendar day 
taken from Paese Sera, a popular leftist Roman 
daily. "At night his-story is not progressive. 
Men are momentarily, accidental, noisy squat- 
ters in the universe. Women are, at least, quietly 
invisible ... in clean mornings of habitual 
sanity, one reads the newspaper and reason 
eclipses the moon. There are women worthy of 
attention, eloquent in their man-given power to 

Anita Leibowitz Page. "I'm a writer and 
freelance editor living in Liberty, N.Y. 
I've been writing fiction since I was five. 
Most of my short stories are about the 
politics of childhood." 

Claire Pajaczkowska works with films. 

Roz Petchesky teaches political science 
and Women's Studies at Ramapo College 
in New Jersey and is also a member of the 
Committee for Abortion Rights and 
Against Sterilization Abuse (C.A.R.- 
A.S.A.). During the current year she is 
doing a study of reproductive freedom as 
a "fellow" of the Hastings Center (the 
Institute of Society, Ethics and the Life 

Gibbous RISING 

» a feminist news collective • 

' Gibbous RISING is not only the de- 
scription of a partial moon becoming 
whole, but signifies the growth of 
women and the rising recognition of 
feminism and liberation. 

1 Women's news. art. events, and 
poetry — a year for $5.00. 

' Gibbous RISING — 1230 H St 
Sacramento. California 95814 

Marty Pottenger. 

(For further information, send SASE to 
Heresies, Box 766, Canal St. Sta., NYC 
NY 10013) 

Toni Robertson lives in Sydney, Aus- 
tralia. She teaches screen-printing in 
workshops at Sydney University and 
works with the Earthworks Poster group: 

Ann Marie Rousseau, a photographer and 
an artist, is a member of the Anti-Catalog, 
M-F IV, and has written for Heresies and 
the Feminist Art Journal. She has worked 
with homeless women at a N.Y.C. shelter 
and recently visited the People's Republic 
of China. 

Saphhire, Blk. female spirit from the 
West moving east. 

Elizabeth M. Schneider is a 1973 graduate 
of New York University School of Law, a 
staff attorney with the Center for Consti- 
tutional Rights in New York, and Adjunct 
Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law 
School. Ms. Schneider represented Yvonne 
Wanrow in her appeal in the Washington 


yes 1 , i want 10 subscribe to 

new womenls times 


address ■. 

city •. state, . 

M« womfn's tilths 'hdV&Sn- 

ust mi»ri>e aire cicefccj 


Supreme Court and is co-counsel along 
with Ms. Jordan and Mary Alice Theiler 
of Seattle for Yvonne Wanrow in her 

Ntozake Shange is a writer and poet and 
author of "For Colored girls who have 
considered suicide/When the rainbow is 

Mimi Smith is an artist who lives and 
works in New York. In the 60's she made 
sculpture in the form of clothing. Her cur- 
rent work is drawings combined with 
audio tape readings. 

Carolyn Smithers is a 20 year old woman, 
who recently served time at Bedford Hills. 
She is the mother of two daughters placed 
in foster homes. The horrible medical 
conditions at Bedford aggravated her con- 
dition of epilepsy and her resistance to the 
authorities made her the target of several 
physical attacks by the guards. The com- 
bination of these two factors caused the 
prison to transfer her to Marcy State, an 
institution for the criminally insane in up- 
state New York. 

Diane Solomon works on cars, clothes, 
cookery and an M.B.A. and works as a 
government training and personnel 
administrator. She writes daily— personal 
letters to friends across town, reports and 
position papers, fiction and poetry. 

Nancy Spero. "Since 1965 I have worked 
in NY. From 1966 to 1970, I made over 
100 paintings on paper dealing with war 
and violence, particularly emphasizing the 
atom bomb and Vietnam. From 1972 to 
today I have continued extended linear 
formats (both vertical and horizontal). In 
1976, I exhibited "(The torture of 
women)," a painting 20 inches by 125 
feet. I am a member of A.I.R. the first 
NY women's gallery." 

KaJy Taylor is an anartist. 

Nadia Telsey. "In 1972 I helped found the 
Women's Martial Arts Union, a martial 
arts outreach group. I am currently cen- 
tering my energies at Brooklyn Women's 
Martial Arts where I teach karate with 
others and work with a C.E.T.A. funded 
project which offers free self defense 
classes to community women." 

Sharon Thompson is a writer who lives in 
New York. She is currently writing a book 
for kids about puberty. 

Paula Webster works in acrylics and dab- 
bles in chance/choice. 

Batya Weinbaum lives in N.Y.C. she 
worked as a photographer and journalist 
until her experience in Allende's Chile 
sparked her interest in radical economics, 
politics and feminist theories, which cul- 
minated in her first book, The Curious 

Courtship of Women's Liberation and 
Socialism (South End, Boston 1978). 

Shebar Windstone. "From 1965 to 1968 I 
was locked up in Kalamazoo (Michigan) 
State Hospital where, as a minor, I had no 
legal rights and not much of anything else 
excelpt pain, fear and anger. This piece 
and some of my other writings and draw- 
ings dealing with mental prisons have been 
published by the Network Against Psychi- 
atric Assault (558 Capp St, San Francisco, 
Ca. 94110) in their newspaper Madness 
Network News ("All the Fits That's News 
to Print")." 


VOLUME III Number 1 

Kaihv ACKER. Marline BARRAT. William BURROUGHS. John CAGE. L. F. 
CELJNE. David COOPER. Gilles DELEUZE. Douglas DUNN. Richard 
WILSON, and many others. 

v\l S^l.'KK'S WUiKAMS. Vol. II. No. I: S2.5i) 

<.kok<;ks haiaiu.k. \<m ii. no. : ; sj.wi 

VNTI-OKDIPIS: \riaud. Deleu/e. tiuallari. Lvoiard. etc. Vol II. No 3: s3.:0 
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HERESIES is an idea-oriented journal 
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THE COLLECTIVE: Ida Applebroog, 
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4th Issue 

"Feminism — Has It Changed Art History'.'" 
by Mary D. Garrard was reprinted with the 
permission of Women's Caucus for Art. It first 
appeared in the Women' Caucus for Art publi- 
cation, Women's Studies and the Arts, edited 
by Elsa H. Fine, Lola B. Gellman and Judy 
Loeb, Winter, 1978, pp 3-7. 

5th Issue 

The photograph on p. 104 of a 
woodcarving by ufei-.vlei Sanford, 
" She was Carved on the Night of 
a Hurricane and a Pull Moon," 
should have been credited to 
Jean West. The carving is one 
foot high. 

The footnote to Lucy Lippard's "Stone- 
springs" was inadvertantly omitted. It should 
have read: "The myths italicized above are in- 
corporated from Mircea Eliade's Gods, God- 
desses and Myths of Creation; occasionally 
fragments and phrases have also been absorbed 
from R. Hansford Worth's Dartmoor, Vincent 
Scully's The Earth, the Temple and the Gods, 
and Guy Underwood's The Patterns of the 
Past. " 

Cover printed by Phillips Offset, Mamaro- 
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Previous Issues 

#1 Feminism, Art and Politics OUT OF PRINT 
#2 Patterns of Communication and Space 

Among Women 
#3 Lesbian Art and Artists OUT OP PRINT 
#4 Women's Traditional Arts/The Politics of 

#5 The Great Goddess 

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The Next Issues 

Working Together: An exploration of the 
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alone, in groups, in collectives. The prob- 
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first year and critical response to the first 
four issues. The impact of work on our 
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uct-oriented. Women in the professions 
and in positions of privilege. What have 
we got? Where are we going? Available: 
Early 1979 

Third World Women in the United States: 

Explorations through researched docu- 
mentation, literary and visual works: a 
redefining of "Third World -women"; 
celebration of creativity and self image; 
isolation of Third World women from 
each other; forced invisibility within the 
larger society; Third World women effect- 
ing social change; ageism; growing up 
Third World; validation of our art/who 
legitimzes our art? a philosophy for criti- 
cism; critiques, Third World women as 
consumers of art; creative modes of ex- 
pression: fashion, life style, environment 
and work. The 8th issue collective is 
accepting manuscripts from women of all 
ages. Available: April 1979 


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Women Organized/Women Divided: Pow- 
er, propaganda and backlash — How cul- 
ture organizes women and how women 
can use culture to organize themselves; 
media and fine arts as propaganda; use of 
media by right-to-lifers, anti-abortion and 
anti-E.R.A. forces. Is any art apolitical? 
Power and money in the Women's Move- 
ment; backlash, wiretapping, investiga- 
tion and intimidation of political women. 
Nihilism in pop music and other art 
forms. Working-class women and their 
relation to feminism. Eurocommunism 
and feminism? Lesbian socialism — what is 
it? The politics of therapy — psychoanaly- 
sis: What can women salvage? Deadline: 
early February 1979 

Women in Classical, Folk, Popular, Rock 
and Jazz Music: What is Women's His- 
tory in Music? What is the Politics of Aes- 
thetics when it comes to Music by Wom- 
en? Is there a Female Aesthetic? Is the 
feminist music business suceeding in de- 
veloping an alternative for composers, 
songwriters and performers? Sexism and 
musical instruments. Women in music 
management and boards: Perpetuating 
the prejudices or giving our sisters a 
chance? Women, ritual, religion and 
song: ancient times to the present. The is- 
sue will include a resource guide, bibliog- 
raphy, discography and grant proposal 
guidelines. Interested in including ex- 
cerpts from scores by composers, text- 
sound pieces, and' descriptions of multi- 
media presentations. Deadline April 1, 


HERESIES is free upon request to women 
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Wed,, Feb* 28, 1978 
8 p.m 8 

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(Broadway & 117th St. ) 

The Women's Slide Registry, located in 
the HERESIES office, includes women 
artists from all over the U.S. Send 3 slides, 
name, address and other information plus 
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Indexed by the Alternative Press Centre, 
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HERESIES: A Feminist Publication on 
Art and Politics is published Winter, 
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10013. HERESIES, ISSN 0146-341 1. Vol. 
2, No. 2, Summer 1978 © 1978 Heresies 
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This issue of HERESIES was typeset in 
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Lithographic, New York City. Printed by 
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The publication of this issue was made 
possible in part by the Women's Fund — 
Joint Foundation Support. 





..5*?§St§aS>: : 'Hi 



Early on the morning of November 7 the wind velocity 
was 40 to 45 mi/hr, perhaps larger than any previously | 
encountered by the bridge. Traffic was shut down. By 
9:30 a.m. the span was vibrating in 8 or 9 segments, 
with frequency 36 vib/min and double amplitude 

i about 3 ft. While measurements were under way, at 
about 10:00 a.m., the main span abruptly began to vi- 
brate torsionally in 2 segments with frequency 14 

I vib/min. The amplitude of torsional vibration quickly 
built up to about 35" each direction from horizontal. 
The main span broke up shortly after 1 1 :00 a.m. Dur- 
ing most of the catastrophic torsional vibration there 

j was a transverse nodal line at mid-span, and a longi- 

j tudinal nodal line down the center of the roadway. 
Measurements made before failure indicated that 
higher wind velocities favored modes with higher fre- J 
quency. This correlation may be explained by the fact * 
that turbulent velocity, fluctuations of winds can be j 
considered as composed of a superposition of many * 
periodic fluctuations, and the fluctuations of higher 
frequency are preponderant at higher wind velocities. 

i There was no correlation between wind velocity and 
amplitude of vibration. 


to e 





i -" 





■ :s^ 













Pink Victory SbdfofrTligBipson 

The Vicki Tapes Marti ne Bar rat 

August 2nd too McDonald 

With No Immediate Cause Ntozake Shange 


The Evolution of .a Violent' Act Paula Grey 

Politics of Rape in Primitive Society 
Paula Webster 

Dialogue 'with a 'Rapist Batya Weinbaum 

Dialogue with the Author 

Claire Pajaczkowska and Batya Weinbaum 

Codex Artaud XVII Nancy Spero 


Happy New Year: An Album of Violence 
(excerpt) Stephanie Oursler 

The Pleasure Outing Anita Page 

the Violence of Power: The Genital 
Mutilation of Females Fran P. Hosken 

Breasts Rachel Blau Du Plessis 

Peignoir and Girdle Mimi Smith 

Wolf Whistles and Warnings Pam McAllister 

Crimes Against Women: New York Tribunal 
1976 Judith Freidlander 


Why the Women's Movement Cannot be 
Non-Violent Karen Hagburg 

Biological Superiority: The World's 
Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea 

Andrea Dworkin 

In Defense of Fallen Comrades: La Mutuaiite 

Eleanor Hakim 

A Rape Poem for Men 

Donna Allegro S/'mms 

Christmas Dinner Jacqueline Lapidus 

Men on Women's Day Linda Lombardo 

Self-Defense Nadia Telsey and 
Linda Maslanko 


A Social History of; Battered 'Women 
Mary Mefzger: "'■■'■■. 

Face to Face with the Far Right: 
Tradition, Family and Property 
Roz Petchesky 

Women and Children. First or How Pop- 
Planning FuckSd^Oyerjv^rp: Susan Brdrn 

Psychosurgery for Social Control 

Blanche Weisen Cook 

The Mind-Fuckers Statement 
Shebar Windstone 



Homeworkers Margaret Harrison 

u£yoiuii@n : :pi;^:f:^mimst:M^::i Public Forms 
< ■sh^Socielvlssyes '^Suzanfie Lacy, 

Leslie Labowitz, Julia London and 

Joan Howarth 

The Violence of Ideological Distortion: 
The imagery of Laundresses in the 19th 

Century French Culture Eun/ce Lipton 


The Carrot Marty Pottenger 

The Social Meaning of Violence 

■ Janet Koenig 

Hello New York: Let's Settle Scores, 
Compadre — Part One :D/ane Bellessi 

Rain Sapphire 

New York City Tonight Sapphire 

Afternoon Stroll :Diane, Solomon 

Representation of Women Who Defend 
Themselves in Response to Physical cr 
Sexual Assault Elizabeth M. Schneider, 
Susan B. Jordan ana Christine C. Arguedas' 

Rape Case Deposition Elaine B. McCarthy 

On Being Inside: Violence in Women's 
Prisons Charoula 

Poem Malikah 

Chains Release Me Carolyn Smithers 

Pooah-Pooah Woman Dollree Mapp 

Imogene Knode Olga Broumas